IBM and Apple combine their AI powers to make apps smarter

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IBM
Apple and IBM are working together to make artificial intelligence apps more impressive.
Photo: Apple

Apple has been ramping up its interest in artificial intelligence for the past few years — and its continuing business-focused partnership with IBM is going to help.

Late Monday, one-time rivals Apple and IBM announced that business apps running on Apple devices will soon be able to take advantage of the ability to combine IBM Watson technology with Apple Core ML to create more intelligent apps.

Apple introduced Core ML, a set of machine learning tools and APIs created for iOS, back at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Core ML allows developers to integrate features like image recognition and natural language processing into regular iOS apps, making it possible to include face tracking, face detection, landmark recognition, text detection, bar code detection, object tracking and more.

IBM Watson, meanwhile, is the groundbreaking artificial intelligence that IBM famously used to defeat a human player at the gameshow Jeopardy! Since then, IBM has used Watson’s technology for everything from creating an AI chef that can create recipes to medical applications.

Combined, the hope is that the partnership can help make iOS-based business apps smarter. TechCrunch gives the example of how it could be used to develop apps in which field service technicians can aim their iPhone at a machine and immediately receive the make and model information, along with ordering information for spare parts. This would use Watson’s superior image recognition tools, which could then be converted into Core ML and included in an app.

“Apple developers need a way to quickly and easily build these apps and leverage the cloud where it’s delivered. [The partnership] lets developers take advantage of the Core ML integration,” Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager for IBM Partnerships and Alliances explained.

Hey, if it leads to smarter apps, we’re all for it!