Is Apple Intelligence the new iCloud? AI platform tipped to get new subscription tier

Apple's Craig Federighi presents Apple Intelligence at the 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple revealed Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024 in June, it made it clear that the artificial intelligence (AI) system would be free to use, with no paid-for tiered options like you find in rivals such as ChatGPT. But while that’s the situation for now, a new report suggests it might not last.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman has hinted at Apple’s future plans. In the article, Gurman explains that “though Apple Intelligence will be free to start, the long-term plan is to make money off [its] capabilities.”

This could be achieved by keeping the base Apple Intelligence model free and launching something akin to “Apple Intelligence+” alongside it. This would have “extra features that users pay monthly fees for, just like iCloud,” Gurman says.

It might not be the only way Apple tries to make money off Apple Intelligence. The company will also “get a cut of the subscription revenue from every AI partner that it brings onboard,” Gurman believes. 

With OpenAI already signed up and Google Gemini now allegedly on the way, that could be a nice little earner for Apple.

The next iCloud


(Image credit: Apple)

It makes sense that Apple is seeking to make some sort of revenue from Apple Intelligence. The system is being woven into almost every aspect of Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems, with a huge number of features set to debut when iOS 18 and macOS 15 launch this fall. 

No doubt Apple will have spent a princely sum researching and developing these features and will want to recoup some of the cost. Beyond that, Apple is also firing up a large network of servers that will help power Apple Intelligence. That alone will be expensive to not only build but also maintain in the long run.

With that in mind, it makes sense for Apple to expand Apple Intelligence to as many products as it can in an effort to entice users to upgrade their devices. According to Gurman, the company is looking to bring Apple Intelligence to the Apple Vision Pro at some point in 2025. Its main obstacles are building a user-friendly interface for the AI and ensuring its servers are not overloaded by the extra demand.

Yet you shouldn’t expect Apple Intelligence to land on the HomePod, Gurman cautions. Apple Intelligence requires at least 8GB of memory, but the HomePod mini only has a mere 1GB of RAM. The regular HomePod, meanwhile, is “too low-volume a product to waste the engineering time,” Gurman says.

Instead, Apple is planning to bring it to “an entirely new robotic device with a display that includes Apple Intelligence at its core.” That sounds a lot like a device we’ve seen rumored before, albeit with an AI twist.

With Apple planning to deploy Apple Intelligence in so many different devices, it’s unsurprising that the AI system could turn into the next iCloud, with a subscription option placing more powerful tools at your fingertips. And according to Gurman, Apple Intelligence will get more frequent updates than iCloud, potentially making it one of the most tempting options among Apple’s varied subscription services – and potentially a part of the Apple One bundle.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.