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Since the rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, many people have wondered when Apple will introduce its own generative AI. Rumors suggest that this could happen next year. Until then, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been talking a lot about AI in recent months and has now reinforced that Apple is investing in generative AI.
Tim Cook says Apple will have its own generative AI
During a call with investors on Thursday to reveal Q4 2023 fiscal results, Cook was asked how Apple has been experimenting with generative AI, given that many other tech companies have already launched AI-based tools.
Unsurprisingly, Apple’s CEO highlighted many features in Apple devices that are based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, such as Personal Voice, Crash Detection, and ECG in the Apple Watch. But when it came specifically to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Cook responded that “obviously, we have work going on.”
He didn’t give any details about what exactly Apple is doing but said that the company wants to have its own generative AI responsibly and that customers will see these technologies become the “heart” of future products.
In terms of generative AI, obviously, we have work going on. I’m not going to get into details about what it is, because as you know, we really don’t do that. But you can bet that we’re investing. We’re investing quite a bit. We’re going to do it responsibly, and it will… you will see product advancements over time where those technologies are at the heart of them.
This is not the first time Tim Cook has talked about AI. In an interview a few months ago, he said that Apple has been “doing research across a wide range of AI technologies, including generative AI, for years.” In May, the executive praised the potential of AI, although he claimed that there are “issues that need to be sorted.”
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple has been ramping up the development of AI-based tools, targeting a release with iOS 18 next year. This technology would be implemented in apps such as Apple Music, Xcode, and of course, Siri.
Report: AI features in development for iOS 18, Siri, Apple Music, Xcode and more
In his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that Apple was caught by surprise at the sudden swell of generative AI tools this year. But they are working hard to catch up with Apple SVPs Craig Federighi, John Giannandrea, and Eddy Cue all in charge of integrating AI-powered functionality into Apple’s products and services.
That will include various new AI features in iOS 18, such as smarter reply suggestions in Messages. Cue is pushing to include features like AI-generated playlists in Apple Music, and exploring how generative AI can be utilized in Apple’s productivity apps like Pages and Keynote. Giannandrea’s team is working on a new, smarter, version of Siri that should be ready to debut next year.
Gurman says embracing AI in end-user features is one of the primary objectives for Apple right now, as it looks to catch up to rivals like OpenAI, Google and Microsoft. Apple is consequently set to spend about $1 billion a year on AI research and product development.
In addition to new features in iOS 18 and Siri, Apple is also looking at ways to enhance the developer experience with AI-enhanced features in Xcode. This would likely include advanced code completion similar to what Github Copilot offers. The company is also looking at ways to streamline its internal AppleCare tools with artificial intelligence.
There is apparently some internal tension about whether to base these features off of AI neural network models running on device, or passed through Apple’s cloud services. Running on-device maximizes privacy, but large language models running on a server farm enable much more sophisticated capabilities. Gurman says Apple will likely decide on a case-by-case approach, with some features running wholly on-device and others relying on a cloud backend.