With the explosive popularity of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, there have been rumors that Apple is working on its own AI product, and that some kind of "Apple GPT" artificial intelligence bot could launch in the future.

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This guide highlights everything we know about Apple's experiments with AI, and it will be updated regularly as new rumors come out.

Internal Testing and Development

Apple's AI chief John Giannandrea is leading development on large language models within Apple, and Giannandrea reports directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Giannandrea established a team that works on conversational AI four years ago, and work has since ramped up.

For the last several months, Apple has been testing an "Apple GPT" rival that could compete with ChatGPT. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, work on AI is a priority for Apple, with the company designing an "Ajax" framework for large language models.

Apple has an internal chatbot that some engineers have been referring to as "Apple GPT," but Apple would not, of course, ever use that naming for a consumer product. Apple employees need special permission to use the chatbot, and its output cannot be used to develop new product features for customers. It is used for product prototyping and it is able to answer questions about the data that was used to train it.

Ajax is said to be more capable than the prior-generation ChatGPT 3.5, and it has been trained on more than 200 billion parameters. As of September 2023, OpenAI's newer models are more powerful than Ajax. Apple reportedly does not have a "clear strategy" for how it will create a generative AI product for consumers. Apple is experimenting with Siri enhancements, software that generates videos and images, and multimodal AI technology that works with images, videos, and text.

Apple is said to be spending millions of dollars a day on conversational AI research as training language models requires a lot of hardware. Apple is on track to spend more than $4 billion on AI servers in 2024.

"Ask" for AppleCare Support Advisors

Apple is testing a ChatGPT-style generative AI tool with its AppleCare support employees. Called "Ask," the tool is designed to generate responses to technical questions and provide information from Apple's internal knowledge base to speed up support replies.

The feature is in beta right now. Advisors can rate a provided question as helpful or unhelpful, and can ask up to five follow-up questions per topic. Apple says the Ask tool is useful for solving complex issues, and because it is pulling from Apple's internal knowledge base, Apple has told advisors that the information is factual, traceable, and useful.

AI for Siri

Apple's work on generative AI could eventually be incorporated into its ‌Siri‌ voice assistant. Apple in February 2023 held an AI summit and briefed employees on its large language model work.

Because of the way ‌Siri‌ is built, it may take Apple quite a bit of time to update its database to support new capabilities. Former ‌Siri‌ engineer John Burkey told The New York Times that ‌Siri‌'s "cumbersome design" means that adding new phrases requires rebuilding the ‌Siri‌ database, which can take up to six weeks each time, while more complicated features like search tools can take upwards of a year.

There are also privacy concerns that Apple needs to contend with to bring generative AI capabilities to ‌Siri‌. Apple has always been more cautious than its competitors, putting privacy ahead of functionality, a decision that has caused ‌Siri‌ to lag behind Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice-based personal assistant options.

The Information suggests that Apple is aiming to create a feature that would let ‌Siri‌ automate multi-step tasks, automatically performing tasks that are accomplished with Shortcuts today.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is aiming for a smarter version of Siri that's deeply integrated with AI. Apple is planning to update the way that ‌Siri‌ interacts with the Messages app, allowing users to field complex questions and auto-complete sentences more effectively.

Rumors suggest that Siri will have better natural conversation capabilities and improved user personalization. The new functionality will be available across device, so ‌Siri‌ may retain conversation information from one device to another.

AI for Apps

Apple is rumored to be planning to add AI to as many Apple apps as possible. In Apple Music, for example, Apple could use AI to create auto-generated playlists, while in Xcode, AI support could help developers write and troubleshoot code.

In Pages and Keynote, AI could be used for writing and creating slide decks, while Apple's internal customer support apps could be updated with generative AI to assist with ‌AppleCare‌.

Apple's full generative AI vision will take time to fully scale, so the complete suite of AI features that Apple has planned might not arrive until 2025.

On-Device AI

The first AI features coming to the iPhone with iOS 18 will run entirely on-device using the ‌iPhone‌'s hardware rather than relying on a cloud server. Apple may add new capabilities in the future through a potential partnership, but on-device AI will be the focus to begin with.

News and Publisher Deals

Apple wants to partner with major publishers to get permission to use their content for AI training purposes.

So far, Apple has approached Condé Nast, NBC News, and IAC about possible AI deals. Condé Nast publications include Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair, Ars Technica, Glamour, The New Yorker, GQ, and more, while IAC owns publications like People, The Spruce, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, and Better Homes & Gardens.

Proposed deals have been worth at least $50 million, and would allow Apple to license archives of news articles. Publishers are said to be "lukewarm" on Apple's offer because Apple has been vague about how generative AI will be applied to news and because Apple has been asking for terms that are "too expansive."

Third-Party AI Bans at Apple

Apple employees have been banned from using ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, and other artificial intelligence tools. Apple is concerned that AI tools could leak confidential company data.

The U.S. government, healthcare institutions, and banks have also prevented employees from using ChatGPT because of similar fears. Tech companies like Verizon, Google, Samsung, and others have banned generative AI tools too.

Possible Partnerships

Apple is in discussions with Google about integrating the Gemini AI engine into the ‌iPhone‌ in ‌iOS 18‌. Apple wants to license Google's large-language models, but terms and branding have not yet been decided on.

Apple is developing new AI features that will run on device, but it wants a partner with large-scale hardware infrastructure to power cloud-based generative AI features like creating images and writing essays based on a prompt. Apple does not plan to develop its own ChatGPT-style chatbot at this time.

In addition to Google, Apple is also holding discussions with OpenAI. The two companies are talking about how Apple could use OpenAI technology to power features in ‌iOS 18‌, and Apple is said to be finalizing a deal to include OpenAI's ChatGPT features in ‌iOS 18‌. In China, Apple may be considering a deal with Baidu.

Apple is pursuing a deal with Photobucket to use the more than 13 billion images and videos from the Photobucket library to train AI models. Apple has already licensed millions of images from Shutterstock.

AI Competition

Almost every major tech company has some kind of AI product in the works. In addition to OpenAI's popular ChatGPT chatbot, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all adopted generative AI for various purposes.

  • Google - Google has developed Bard, a chat-based AI tool. Google has also integrated generative AI into its search products and apps, plus Bard can integrate with Google Flights, Maps, Drive, and more.
  • Microsoft - Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI for a version of ChatGPT that is integrated with its Bing search engine, plus Microsoft has the Copilot AI app.
  • Amazon - Amazon is working to enhance its Alexa voice assistant with generative AI.
  • Meta - Meta is incorporating generative AI into several of its apps. WhatsApp and Messenger, for example, can use generative AI to make custom stickers, while there's a Meta AI beta available for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.

Apple's Current Use of AI and Machine Learning

Apple is already using artificial intelligence and machine learning for a long list of functions in its products. AI is used for almost everything, with a small sampling below.

  • Photos - Apple uses machine learning to enhance photos that are taken with the ‌iPhone‌'s camera. This includes everything from Deep Fusion for cutting down on noise in images to the new iPhone 15 Portrait Mode tools that let you enable portrait images after a photo has been taken.
  • Spotlight Search - Spotlight search and search throughout the iOS operating system is powered by AI.
  • Visual Lookup - The feature that lets the ‌iPhone‌ detect the content in photos is a machine learning feature.
  • Crash Detection and Fall Detection - Fall Detection and Crash Detection both use machine learning to determine whether someone has been in a crash or had a fall based on the information collected by the various sensors in Apple devices.
  • ECG - The ECG feature on the Apple Watch looks at heart rhythm data to determine whether someone is likely to be experiencing atrial fibrillation.
  • Autocorrect - Apple's autocorrect system and word suggestion options are powered by machine learning.
  • Siri Suggestions - When your ‌iPhone‌ suggests something, such as sending someone a birthday message or adding an event in your Mail app to the Calendar, it's using machine learning algorithms.

Apple's devices have dedicated Neural Engines inside specifically for powering machine learning capabilities.

Tim Cook on AI

Back in May 2023, Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌ said that the potential of artificial intelligence is "very interesting," but he said there are a "number of issues that need to be sorted" with the technology. He explained that it is "very important to be deliberate and thoughtful" when deciding how and when AI should be used.

Cook has also said that AI and machine learning are "core fundamental technologies integral to virtually every product" that Apple has created, and that AI work is "absolutely critical" to the company. Cook has confirmed that Apple has been experimenting with generative AI "for years."

Potential Launch Date - iOS 18

Apple is widely rumored to be planning to add AI features to ‌iOS 18‌, and the update is said to be the biggest update to the iOS operating system in years. Apple hinted at AI features coming to ‌iOS 18‌ with its WWDC announcement. Apple marketing chief Greg Joswiak said WWDC will be "Absolutely Incredible," with the words capitalized in a play on AI.

For more on everything that we expect to see in ‌iOS 18‌, including more on the AI features coming, we have a dedicated iOS 18 roundup.

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