Apple enters the generative AI race | Technology

After the announcements of OpenAI and Google, which this week presented their new bets on generative artificial intelligence, all eyes in the sector are now turning to Apple. Tim Cook, the CEO of the American multinational, has just announced that He will soon make public his first steps in this new field of AI opened with the emergence of ChatGPT. The designated date is next June 10, when the annual WWDC developers conference begins, where the new functions of iOS 18, the next version of the iPhone operating system, will be announced. In the absence of more details, multiple rumors have spread in recent weeks that point to all kinds of directions that the technology giant could take.

Among analysts, the view prevails that Apple’s entry into the technological race of generative AI It will not be to compete directly with OpenAI and Google, but rather that the movements of the iPhone manufacturer can unbalance the struggle between the two to lead innovation with their chatbots and other artificial intelligence services. According to the latest leaks, Apple would be about to close a agreement to integrate ChatGPT on the iPhone; although the same sources recall that conversations with Google to use Gemini technology are still underway. For both competitors, having privileged access to the more than one billion iPhone users would be a very important goal in their fierce rivalry.

Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, Google has paid Apple a significant sum —20 billion dollars in 2022— because its search engine is the one used by default in the Safari browser on Apple phones. Although it is still unknown whether Apple will decide on OpenAI or Google, and how it would integrate its AI, the most reputable analysts of Apple’s movements lean towards a different type of agreement than the search engine.

Thus, rather than using the GhatGPT or Gemini chatbots on the iPhone by default, the deal would be to use their technology. According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, “Talks with Google are aimed at licensing Gemini’s generative AI models to power new features coming to iPhone software later this year.” From your daily newsletter StratecheryBen Thompson considers that Google has a more adequate infrastructure than that of OpenAI to be able to handle on its own the avalanche of traffic and processing that integration with the iOS system would entail. Meanwhile, John Gruber, from the specialized publication Daring Fireballargues that “Apple could negotiate deals to use multiple AI providers in the background, treating them as white-label providers, as it would present those new features to users under its own Siri brand.”

Looking at the daily use of iPhones, expectations regarding Apple’s next moves focus above all on a deep renovation of your Siri voice assistant to make it truly intelligent. Since the premiere of Siri in 2011, one day before the death of Steve Jobs, it has barely incorporated any important new features and although it solves simple tasks such as calling a contact in the calendar, its voice recognition system still struggles many times. other requests such as playing the desired song or album. The Google assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa, overtook Siri and They are considered more efficient and intelligent.

The decline of Siri

The arrival of ChatGPT in 2022, with its much greater capacity to listen, give answers and even chat with the user, made Apple’s lag behind its competitors in the field of assistants even more evident. And this week’s demo from OpenAIwith its new voice conversation mode —reminiscent of the movie Her and that it is capable of doing things like making up a story about what is asked of it and giving it the drama preferred by the user, or acting as an interpreter in multiple languages—has already left Siri directly in the forgotten toy drawer.

If Apple prioritized ChatGPT or Gemini to chat directly with its iPhone users and resolve their requests, it would be the end of Siri. And Apple would lose important control over privacy, which it has made one of the great axes of its discourse in recent years. Faced with the widespread feeling that Apple is falling behind in the field of artificial intelligence, Tim Cook declared during the recent presentation of its latest quarterly results: “We believe we have advantages that will differentiate us in this new era, such as Apple’s unique ability to seamlessly combine hardware, software and services, such as our own processors with industry-leading neural engines, and our unwavering focus on privacy, that sustains everything we create”,

According to John Gruber, who has a long history of making accurate predictions about new Apple announcements, “Apple’s own efforts in language models (which drive generative AI) appear aimed at on-device processing,” taking advantage of the capabilities of its own processors and maintaining full control over privacy compared to services like ChatGPT, which use the enormous processing capacity of server farms in the cloud. Apple would choose to carry out within each iPhone – with the iOS 18 software, which will be released in September – relatively simple generative AI tasks, but that handle very sensitive information, such as summarizing an audio message or writing a response to a email, in line with what Samsung has already incorporated in its latest mobile phones.

Privacy and Apple’s own chips

Compared to its competitor, Apple has the advantage that it manufactures its own processors for its phones, tablets and computers, and in the last year it has surprised the technology industry with the speed of its evolution: in just six months it has gone from launch the M3 processor for its MacBook Pro and launch the new generation M4 in the new iPad Pro that has just gone on sale. Since 2017, Apple has included in its processors a neural core dedicated exclusively to executing artificial intelligence tasks on its devices; and the latest leaks indicate that the technology giant could be preparing those chips for use in its own cloud servers.

“We continue to feel very optimistic about our opportunity in generative AI. “We are making significant investments, and we are looking forward to sharing some very exciting things with our customers soon,” added Tim Cook in his recent speech to analysts and investors. Until its presentation on June 10, with which Apple will inaugurate its annual meeting with app developers for its devices, the apple company will not make its plans public. And, apart from the leaks, few concrete details can be deduced from the acquisitions of AI companies that Apple has made in the last year or scientific articles on language models that you have published. None of these movements have been considered of great relevance by experts.

The only thing that Apple has shown, without revealing its cards, is that it wants to enter strongly into this field that has unleashed a new technological fever. “We are putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into artificial intelligence,” Cook told his investors in February. Since then, the marketing team has gone out of its way to emphasize the capabilities of its devices in that field, reaching statements that are difficult to contrast like “customers love the incredible AI performance of the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models.”

While waiting for the true details of how Apple is going to make its promised entry into the generative AI race, the company has new resources to make a strong long-term bet, after the cancellation of its multimillion-dollar project to create a car autonomous and after having completed the development of its first mixed reality glasses, the Vision Pro. Although it is a long-distance race, and it is still just beginning, the new ChatGPT with voice assistant and the renewal of the Google search engine with AI —which end to be introduced—indicate that what is at stake is creating a new way of using computers, mobile phones and tablets.

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