Gurman: Apple using custom ‘Apple GPT’ chatbot internally as it plans for generative AI features in 2024

While Microsoft is selling AI to the enterprise, Apple is reportedly developing its own strategy for generative AI. Mark Gurman at Bloomberg has new details on what sounds like a serious effort to develop technology within Apple that can compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT AI.

According to Gurman, Apple is internally testing a generative AI chatbot it developed that some are calling Apple GPT. The project uses a framework called “Ajax” that Apple started building in 2022 to base various machine learning projects on a shared foundation.

In the report, Gurman highlights that we’ve already seen some of the results of this project that’s now being used to build generative AI:

The company has already deployed AI-related improvements to search, Siri and maps based on that system. And Ajax is now being used to create large language models and serve as the foundation for the internal ChatGPT-style tool, the people said.

The scale of testing within Apple seems especially concentrated for now, however, and Gurman reports that Apple is restrictive on how it can be used:

Still, the system requires special approval for access. There’s also a significant caveat: Any output from it can’t be used to develop features bound for customers. Even so, Apple employees are using it to assist with product prototyping. It also summarizes text and answers questions based on data it has been trained with.

The report emphasizes that the company doesn’t actually intend to release Apple GPT. Instead, it sounds like the generative AI tool is Apple’s answer to privacy concerns with employees using generative AI controlled by other companies.

For now, Apple appears to be laying the groundwork for a future generative AI announcement:

It’s now working on several related initiatives — a cross-company effort between its AI and software engineering groups, as well as the cloud services engineering team that would supply the infrastructure for any significant new features. While the company doesn’t yet have a concrete plan, people familiar with the work believe Apple is aiming to make a significant AI-related announcement next year.

Other tidbits in Gurman’s reporting include that Apple considered “signing a larger contract with OpenAI” after conducting a “corporate trial” of its technology. Apple is also recruiting experts in the generative AI field. You can read the full report at Bloomberg here.

To quote myself from yesterday:

Apple’s appetite for subscription revenue can’t be satisfied. You have to wonder what new ideas the company might be cooking up for turning generative AI into a revenue generator. Can you imagine a version of Siri with generative AI so good that people pay monthly for it? If it makes sense, it could make money.

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