According to Apple COO Jeff Williams, smartphones will be one of the key drivers that push forward the future of artificial intelligence (AI). As detailed by a Reuters report, Williams spoke at the 30th anniversary celebration of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company on Monday, where he explained part of Apple’s AI vision.

Williams talked about the AI frameworks that Apple had built, including the “neural engines” present in the iPhone and Apple Watch products. Williams said that Apple believes these frameworks “will allow developers to create apps that will do more and more in this space, so we think the phone is a major platform,” as quoted by Reuters.

The computing power of mobile devices and the promises of AI could help change the world, Williams said. One way would be in changing the delivery of healthcare, he noted, adding context and critical data to the patient care process.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy template (Tech Pro Research)

Apple’s AI push will extend beyond phones, Williams said, as some of its AI strategy will be realized in the data center. However, it should be noted that Apple isn’t currently pursuing a “machines thinking for themselves” version of AI, Williams said.

The comments came a few days before Apple is set to open pre-orders for its iPhone X. The phone itself features the A11 chip, custom built to handle AI workloads. Companies like Google and Microsoft have unveiled their own AI-focused chips as well, signifying a new direction for mobile.

It’s clear that smartphone hardware is commoditized, with manufacturers constantly competing over incremental advances in camera quality and processing power. AI offers a new differentiator, though, with companies given the opportunity to compete based on context and how quickly they can surface relevant information.

In some ways, AI has already extended beyond the phone. With the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and now the Apple HomePod, it’s clear that the major players are all targeting voice-powered home assistants as well.

As AI continues to branch out into more areas of daily life, it also creates more opportunities for tech firms like Apple and Google to tie users to their specific ecosystems. Heavy Gmail and Android users are more likely to gravitate toward Google Assistant, for example, which will in turn point them back to other Google products and services even more.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Apple COO Jeff Williams recently spoke in Taiwan about the future of AI, and how smartphones are a major platform for the advancement of the technology.
  2. Apple’s custom A11 chip powers its AI efforts in mobile, while firms like Google and Microsoft have built their own AI-focused chips as well.
  3. As hardware becomes commoditized, AI is a new differentiator for smartphone leaders, and provides a new way to further user investment in the company’s ecosystem.