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In a recent report by Bloomberg’s renowned tech journalist Mark Gurman, it has been revealed that Apple is fully committed to developing artificial intelligence (AI) projects, including a potential competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Over the past few months, AI has become a top priority for the Cupertino company as chatbot services and AI functionalities in apps continue to proliferate.
Apple has taken significant strides in this field, creating its own “Ajax” framework tailored for large language models like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, and Google’s Bard. Inside Apple, engineers have affectionately referred to their internal chatbot project as “Apple GPT,” cleverly alluding to its competition. However, Gurman reports that Apple does not yet have a definitive strategy for creating a consumer product based on this technology.
Recognizing the popularity and transformative potential of AI chatbots, Apple is concerned about falling behind in terms of new AI-based technologies that are reshaping the way people interact with smartphones. To address this, Apple employees have been granted special access to the chatbot app currently in development. However, its output is strictly limited to product prototyping, as it cannot be used to develop new features for customers. Nevertheless, it can answer questions based on the data used to train it.
The foundation of the Ajax platform relies on Google’s Jax machine learning framework, which is hosted on the Google Cloud platform. Interestingly, Apple reportedly considered partnering with OpenAI, even trialing their technology for corporate teams. However, ultimately, the company decided against entering into a contract with OpenAI.
Apple has dedicated multiple teams to its AI initiatives, aiming to address challenges such as privacy concerns. While Apple’s Siri personal assistant has been lauded for its commitment to privacy, the company has been criticized for lagging behind its competitors in terms of functionality. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon, and others have all showcased more advanced AI products.
During Apple’s recent earnings call in May, CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that there are still several issues that need to be resolved in the realm of AI. Cook emphasized the importance of a deliberate and thoughtful development approach, while also stating that Apple sees AI as a “huge” area and intends to incorporate it into their products on a careful basis.
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As of now, there is no official confirmation on when or if Apple will release a consumer-facing chatbot. However, the company consistently enhances its products with machine learning-based features in each software iteration. For instance, iOS 17 boasts improvements in predictive text functionality, along with new features like Visual Lookup and photo identification.
Speculation suggests that Apple may make a significant AI-related announcement in 2024, although concrete plans are yet to be revealed. Leading Apple’s AI efforts are John Giannandrea, the company’s AI head, and Craig Federighi, software engineering chief. However, as is common with Apple’s emerging technologies, disagreements over product development reportedly exist and will need to be resolved.