Apple Trying To Catch Up On Generative AI Wave

Published on 23 Oct, 2023, 11:16 AM IST
Updated on 29 Apr, 2024, 10:20 AM IST

Sahil Mohan Gupta
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Apple has missed the bus on generative AI this year, leading to a frenzy at Cupertino to catch up.

Apple has found itself flat-footed in the recent generative AI wave, despite CEO Tim Cook's claims that the company has been investing billions of dollars in the technology. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple's executives were blindsided by the rise of OpenAI's ChatGPT and the rapid advancements made by Microsoft and Google in the field. However, Apple is now investing over $1 billion to catch up quickly and plans to incorporate generative AI into its products by next year.

There is major concern at Apple that the company has missed the bus on generative AI this year, leading to a frenzy at Cupertino to catch up. The project is being led by John Giannandrea, Apple's AI chief, along with Craig Federighi, Apple's software boss, and Eddy Cue, Apple's services boss.

Both Microsoft and Google have already integrated generative AI into their search engines. They have also incorporated this technology into their operating systems, such as Windows for desktop users and Android for mobile users. In Apple's recent iOS 17 update, a significant update was made to the auto-correct feature, which is claimed to be based on large language models.

Apple has already developed a large language model called AJAX, which is an internal chatbot known as Apple GPT. It is currently being tested internally to determine its competitiveness compared to Microsoft and Google's offerings.

Giannandrea is overseeing the development of generative AI technology to revamp Siri. Having previously worked as Google's search boss, he is well-versed in AI technology. Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, was the first of its kind, but it has fallen behind Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa in the past decade. It is believed that a smarter Siri could be ready as early as next year.

Federighi's software team is also integrating AI into Apple's software, including operating systems like macOS and iOS, as well as the apps available on these platforms. There is an effort to incorporate a feature similar to "proofread," like the latest Pixel phones by Google, which allows users to auto-correct sentences through Siri and the Messages app.

There is also a push to infuse generative AI into Apple's app development tools, such as xCode, to compete with what Microsoft is doing with GitHub Co-pilot, which provides auto-complete suggestions for developers as they write code.

Eddy Cue, Apple's services boss, is leading a push to infuse generative AI into services like Apple Music, which will generate playlists similar to Spotify. Apple leveraged its partnership with OpenAI to achieve this. Additionally, Apple aims to incorporate generative AI into its iWork suite of apps such as Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.

Generative AI is also being explored for apps like Pages and Keynote, allowing users to write in word processors or automatically create slides for presentations.

However, Apple's strategy of on-device processing and prioritising privacy is at odds with the cloud interconnect required for many features. Despite having highly capable mobile SoCs, Apple may need to depend on the cloud for certain LLM models to compete with Microsoft and Google.

Since on-device processing is still a while away, Apple may face challenges in catching up. It is likely that Apple will adopt a hybrid opt-in method for the adoption of generative AI across its products and services.

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