Apple has been conspicuously absent in generative AI news, while OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and Meta are making headlines with their advances daily. However, the iPhone maker hasn’t given up, and a privacy-focused Apple AI is undergoing internal testing.
According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is working on a chatbot and has already been testing it internally. Reporter Mark Gurman’s sources claim that Apple’s AI plans are expected to be revealed in a major announcement in 2024. Apple engineers are said to refer to the AI as “Apple GPT” internally, suggesting it could use a generative pretrained transformer (GPT) somewhat similar to OpenAI’s model.
Apple’s AI is a large language model, reportedly called “Ajax,” that runs on Google Cloud using Google’s Jax machine learning framework. Apple uses Google Cloud for iCloud services as well, and the data is encrypted and secure. In a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about AI, saying it’s important to be “very deliberate and very thoughtful in the development and the deployment.”
Apple’s AI engineers, in theory, would be faced with the unique task of creating an effective AI while protecting user privacy, which will be key to making this technology fit the Apple brand. While Apple has banned the use of ChatGPT internally, Gurman suggests Ajax has been in use instead.
In the report, Gurman added that Apple is unlikely to buy out an existing generative AI company, as some have speculated. The reason for this stance could be Apple’s difficulty in integrating acquisitions. Apple has made slow progress after purchasing Intel’s modem division, for example.
But even beyond Gurman’s report, we do know that Apple has been investing in AI. The company has been posting many AI-related job listings in recent months and during a hiring freeze. So far, Apple hasn’t officially acknowledged any plans to join in with a generative AI solution of its own — but it’s starting to seem inevitable that Apple enters the AI chatbot race at some point.
Apple isn’t new to AI entirely, of course. Apple currently incorporates AI into plenty of its products, whether that be handwriting recognition on the iPad, background removal on the iPhone, and video reactions on a Mac. Apple has even announced a new generative AI feature for iPhone, although the accessibility feature wasn’t described that way.
Beyond that, Personal Voice is coming in iOS 17, which allows iPhone owners to use a customized text-to-speech feature. After recording several snippets of your speech, the iPhone can synthesize your voice with good fidelity.
AI like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, GPT-4, Bing Chat, and Google Bard, however, operate on an entirely different level of sophistication, outshining the best efforts of earlier AI in terms of understanding human speech and even uploaded images. By next year, Apple be fR behind the competition, especially given the speed at which the technology is advancing.
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