Apple’s decision to delay the release of an update for the BlueMail app, which features the AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT, has sparked a debate over the role of generative AI in app development.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple blocked the BlueMail update over concerns that ChatGPT could generate inappropriate content for children. However, the co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix Inc., Ben Volach, disagrees with Apple’s decision.
ChatGPT is a conversational AI model designed by OpenAI that interacts in a human-like way, answering follow-up questions, challenging incorrect premises, admitting mistakes, and more. It’s a powerful tool for automating tasks, such as writing emails using the contents of prior emails and calendar events.
Recently, Microsoft integrated ChatGPT with the Bing search engine, which raised several red flags about the technology. Early testers grew concerned with responses generated by the chatbot, including incorrect information, as well as seemingly unhinged and angry responses.
As a result, Apple has asked Blix to increase the app’s age restriction to 17 from 4, or add content filters to the document, because the new update was using the ChatGPT chatbot to automate writing emails. The app-review team said that because the app could produce content not appropriate for all audiences, BlueMail should move up its age restriction to 17 and older, or include content filtering, documents show.
Mr. Volach says that BlueMail has content-filtering capabilities, and the app’s restriction is currently set for users 4 years old and older. However, Apple’s age restriction for 17 and older is for categories of apps that may include everything from offensive language to sexual content and references to drugs.
Mr. Volach has accused Apple of unfairly treating the BlueMail update, pointing out that other apps with ChatGPT functionality exist on the App Store, like Bing for iOS. However, he failed to mention that Bing already has a 17-years-or-older age restriction.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has often spoken highly about the potential of AI technology in offering innovative features but has not ventured into generative AI. Thus, the company’s rejection of BlueMail’s new update shows that it has a close eye on the technology, which could affect iOS security.
Apple’s attempt to set an age restriction to help moderate content from a language-model-based AI is an indication that the tech giant is closely watching the new technology and the risks it poses. The company has long said it must carefully curate and review what software can be accessed on the iPhone and iPad through its App Store to keep its products private and secure.
BlueMail is available on the App Store with in-app purchases starting from $6.99. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and requires iOS 12.0 or later and Apple Silicon Mac running on macOS 11.0 or later.
The use of AI in apps is a growing trend, and ChatGPT is just one example of how developers are using the technology to automate tasks and enhance user experience.
As AI continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how companies like Apple balance the benefits of the technology with the need to protect users, especially children, from inappropriate content.