In the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence, a familiar tech giant has been making discreet but substantial strides – Apple. The whispers of an Apple GPT have become an enigma in the AI community, sparking curiosity and speculation. As the interest in generative AI tools like ChatGPT continues to explode, there’s a growing anticipation surrounding the potential release of Apple’s AI creation. This guide takes a deep dive into everything we know about Apple’s ventures into the world of AI, shedding light on the secretive Apple GPT and the larger landscape of AI innovation within the company.
Internal testing and development
Apple’s foray into the realm of generative AI is spearheaded by none other than their AI chief, John Giannandrea. This visionary leader has orchestrated the development of colossal language models within Apple. A dedicated team specializing in conversational AI was established by Giannandrea four years ago, and the momentum has been building ever since.
Recent months have seen Apple vigorously testing an AI rival to the much-acclaimed ChatGPT. Mark Gurman, a renowned name in tech journalism, has reported on Apple’s heightened commitment to AI. Under the codename Ajax, Apple is crafting a cutting-edge framework for large language models. This framework is rumored to hold vast potential, surpassing the capabilities of ChatGPT 3.5. It has been trained on a staggering dataset containing over 200 billion parameters. Interestingly, as of September 2023, OpenAI’s newer models are said to lag in sheer power.
Apple is treading the path of experimentation when crafting a generative AI product for consumers. Their endeavors encompass a broad spectrum, including enhancements to Siri, software for generating videos and images, and the exploration of multimodal AI technology capable of working with text, photos, and videos. The commitment to this venture is clear, with Apple investing millions daily in conversational AI research.
AI for Siri: A leap forward
Apple’s explorations in generative AI extend beyond standalone products to the heart of their ecosystem – Siri. In February 2023, Apple held an AI summit, a key moment in which they briefed their employees on the extensive work they’ve been doing with large language models.
However, it’s essential to recognize that updating Siri with these newfound capabilities is no small feat. Due to the intricate architecture of Siri, bringing in new phrases and features demands a considerable investment of time. Former Siri engineer John Burkey revealed that introducing new phrases can take up to six weeks for each update. More complex features, like advanced search tools, may require more than a year.
Privacy remains a paramount concern for Apple. The company has always placed privacy at the forefront of its offerings, often prioritizing it over functionality. This cautious approach has sometimes caused Siri to lag behind its competitors, such as Alexa and Google Assistant, in terms of capabilities.
Third-party AI bans at Apple and beyond
Apple’s concerns about AI don’t stop at their internal ventures. Apple employees are prohibited from using AI tools like ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot out of fear of sensitive company data being leaked. The U.S. government, healthcare institutions, and even major tech companies like Verizon, Google, Samsung, and others have joined this ban, expressing similar apprehensions.
Apple GPT competition: A widespread trend
It’s crucial to recognize that Apple is not alone in pursuing AI excellence. Virtually every major tech company is working on its version of generative AI. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has sparked a wave of innovation across the tech landscape.
- Google has introduced Bard, a chat-based AI tool, while integrating generative AI into its various search products and applications. Also, they are testing SGE Lite.
- Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI to incorporate ChatGPT into its Bing search engine, enhancing the search experience.
- Amazon is striving to empower its Alexa voice assistant with generative AI capabilities.
- Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is actively integrating generative AI into its apps, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, to create custom stickers. A Meta AI beta is also available for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.
Apple’s current utilization of AI and Machine Learning
Beyond their AI aspirations, Apple has already harnessed the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning in many ways. These technologies are fundamental to various functions within Apple’s products, enriching the user experience.
- Photos: Apple utilizes machine learning to enhance the photos captured by the iPhone’s camera. Features like Deep Fusion reduce image noise, and the iPhone 15 Portrait Mode enables post-capture adjustments.
- Spotlight Search: AI powers Spotlight search and search functionality throughout the iOS operating system, delivering efficient results.
- Visual Lookup: This innovative feature enables iPhones to detect and identify objects within photos, thanks to machine learning.
- Crash Detection and Fall Detection: Apple employs machine learning to discern accidents and falls by analyzing device sensor data.
- ECG: The ECG feature in the Apple Watch utilizes machine learning to assess heart rhythm data, aiding in the early detection of atrial fibrillation.
- Autocorrect: Apple’s renowned autocorrect system and word suggestion options are fine-tuned by machine learning algorithms.
- Siri Suggestions: AI algorithms power the proactive suggestions provided by Siri on your iPhone, enhancing convenience and productivity.
To support these functionalities, Apple has integrated dedicated Neural Engines within their devices, dedicated to fueling machine learning capabilities.
Tim Cook on AI: A visionary approach
The top leadership at Apple is keenly aware of the transformative potential of AI. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in May 2023, emphasized the significance of artificial intelligence and machine learning. While acknowledging the technology’s allure, Cook also stressed the importance of cautious and deliberate implementation. In his view, AI is a fundamental technology that underpins virtually every Apple product.
Cook has affirmed that Apple’s experimentation with generative AI has spanned several years, reflecting the company’s commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation in this field.
Potential launch date: A glimpse into the future
As the curiosity around Apple GPT continues to swell, speculation about its potential launch date abounds. Both The Information and analyst Jeff Pu predicts that a generative AI feature could find its way onto the iPhone and iPad by late 2024, coinciding with the release of iOS 18. Apple’s strategy includes a combination of cloud-based AI and on-device processing, promising an intriguing user experience.
However, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has a more conservative outlook, stating that there are no signs of generative AI technology arriving in 2024 and suggesting that Apple might be trailing its competitors in this domain.
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