Apple’s ChatGPT Competitor Could Arrive Next Year

Apple is reportedly already testing a large language model chatbot similar to ChatGPT internally, although there is no telling if it will ship to users.

That’s according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, who says that Apple has built its own framework that can then be used to build individual chatbots. In fact, one’s already been created and used internally with some engineers calling it Apple GPT.

The iPhone maker has built its own framework to create large language models — the AI-based systems at the heart of new offerings like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard — according to people with knowledge of the efforts. With that foundation, known as “Ajax,” Apple also has created a chatbot service that some engineers call “Apple GPT.”

Apple GPT is based on the Ajax framework, the report notes, and it’s that framework that Apple is now focusing on. In fact, Gurman says that the Ajax project has already helped improve some Apple features including search and Siri. As for Apple GPT, that’s only available to some employees for now.

The chatbot app was created as an experiment at the end of last year by a tiny engineering team. Its rollout within Apple was initially halted over security concerns about generative AI, but has since been extended to more employees. Still, the system requires special approval for access. There’s also a significant caveat: Any output from it can’t be used to develop features bound for customers.

While Gurman says that Apple’s plans aren’t yet set out and that Apple GPT might not be used in customer-facing implementations, generative AI does seem to be something that it wants to make use of. Gurman says that some believe that an AI-related announcement could happen in 2024.

Beyond the state of the technology, Apple is still trying to determine the consumer angle for generative AI. It’s now working on several related initiatives — a cross-company effort between its AI and software engineering groups, as well as the cloud services engineering team that would supply the infrastructure for any significant new features. While the company doesn’t yet have a concrete plan, people familiar with the work believe Apple is aiming to make a significant AI-related announcement next year.

So far Apple has found itself blindsided by the popularity of chatbots like ChatGPT and while Microsoft and Google have already started to pivot towards AI, Apple has been slower off the mark. Ajax is designed to change that, it seems.

You can read the full Bloomberg report to get the lowdown on how Apple will do that, including the hiring of new AI-focused engineers in an attempt top bolster its teams.

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