Don’t Expect to See ‘AppleGPT’ at This Year’s WWDC

Siri on iPhone Credit: Omid Armin / Unsplash
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Although Apple is expected to have a lot to say about its AI plans at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), it appears that those plans don’t include the generative AI chatbot that we’ve been hearing about over the past year.

In July, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman revealed that Apple was testing an AI chat tool with a limited number of internal employees, sparking speculation that Apple might release an “AppleGPT” bot to compete with others like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, and Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard).

As the theory went, Apple needed to do something to catch up to its rivals, and building its own AI chatbot seemed like the way to go since everyone seems to think those are the next big thing right now. Meanwhile, in public comments, Apple CEO Tim Cook repeatedly told investors that AI and machine learning are already “core fundamental technologies integral to virtually every product that we build,” rather than the standalone products that Apple’s competitors are making them out to be.

So, perhaps it’s not a surprise that Apple isn’t developing its own chatbot. For one thing, the company has seemingly decided it doesn’t have the chops for it right now; a report last week suggested it might make a deal to use Google’s Gemini instead, but even that report hinted that Apple wanted to license the overall Gemini AI model, much like Samsung has done for its Galaxy AI features, rather than simply incorporating Google’s chatbot into iOS 18.

Meanwhile, Apple’s internal GPT-like chat tool is reportedly being used to help AppleCare specialists resolve customer support issues, but there’s no indication that Apple plans to take it beyond that.

Instead, Gurman has confirmed that although Apple is planning some big new AI features, a generative AI chatbot isn’t one of them.

Apple’s artificial intelligence strategy will include a slew of new proactive features to assist users in their daily lives. The company isn’t planning to debut its own generative AI chatbot, though. Instead, Apple is holding talks with potential partners like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and OpenAI to supply generative AI services.

Mark Gurman

That doesn’t mean that iOS 18 won’t be a big deal. In nearly the same breath, Gurman says it’s “expected to be the most ambitious overhaul of the iPhone’s software in its history,” at least from what his sources have told him. He doesn’t detail exactly what will make it big, but in addition to the AI features, we’ve heard about a significantly more customizable Home Screen experience and possibly even an overall redesign to mirror the Vision Pro UI. We’d suggest taking that last one with a healthy dose of sodium, as we have yet to hear it from other, more typically reliable sources.

Further, Apple is pouring big bucks into generative AI, with reports suggesting it plans to drop billions on AI servers and spend $50 million to license news sources to train its AI models. All of this suggests Apple is hard at work on something, even if it’s not a complete AI chatbot.

For one thing, Apple may not be ready to do what Google and OpenAI can do today, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t trying to get there eventually. More significantly, even amid Apple’s discussions with Google over using Gemini, there are some aspects of iOS that it wants to keep under its own control for the sake of privacy and security. Those are still expected to be powered by Apple’s “homegrown” AI models.

Chief among these would undoubtedly be Siri, where Apple has already been burned by outsourcing aspects of the technology to third-party contractors. We all know there’s a lot of room for improvement here — and Apple knows it too — so it would be absurd to make a big push into AI without letting Siri lead the way.

Some leaks have suggested that Siri will be a focal point for Apple AI, and we’ve even heard rumors that the iPhone 16 will get better mics for Siri’s new AI powers. However, the sources that have shared these tidbits can be hit-and-miss, and the usual sources have been pretty quiet on that front. This suggests that while Apple will undoubtedly have some big AI surprises for us at WWDC24, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect those to be at this point.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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