Apple has designed an “Ajax” framework suited for large language models such as ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, and Google’s Bard. The company has also built its own in-house chatbot, informally referred to by some engineers as “Apple GPT,” a nod to ChatGPT. However, Apple currently lacks a “clear strategy” for delivering a consumer product, as per Gurman’s report.
With AI chatbots gaining rapid popularity, Apple is concerned about trailing behind in the development of novel AI technologies that could redefine smartphone interaction. Access to the chatbot app that Apple is working on is restricted to specific employees, and its outputs are not utilized to develop new customer-facing features. The chatbot is primarily employed for product prototyping and can respond to queries based on the training data Apple used.
The Ajax platform, upon which the chatbot operates, is based on Google’s Jax machine learning framework and runs on Google Cloud. There were reports that Apple considered entering into a contract with OpenAI and even tested OpenAI’s technology for its corporate teams, but ultimately did not proceed with these plans.
Apple’s AI teams are striving to tackle challenges like privacy concerns. With its Siri personal assistant, Apple has traditionally opted for a more cautious approach than its competitors, prioritizing privacy over functionality. This has led to criticisms of Siri’s performance in comparison to rival offerings from Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon, and others.
During Apple’s earnings call in May, CEO Tim Cook discussed the “number of issues that need to be sorted” with AI, stressing the need for a “deliberate and thoughtful” approach in AI development. Cook also conveyed Apple’s perception of AI as “huge”, with plans to continue its careful integration into products.
There is no confirmation regarding when or if Apple plans to launch a consumer-oriented chatbot, but the company consistently enhances machine learning-based features in its products with each new software update. In iOS 17, for instance, predictive text functionality has seen significant improvements, and Apple has debuted new features revolving around Visual Lookup and photo identification.
Apple could potentially make a “significant” AI announcement in 2024, but no solid plans have been confirmed.
Apple’s AI head John Giannandrea and software engineering chief Craig Federighi are leading Apple’s AI endeavors. However, as with many of Apple’s nascent technologies, disagreements over product development reportedly need to be addressed.