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Apple pushing to catch up on AI suggest acquisitions, job postings

Apple is going hard to catch up on generative AI. (Image: Dall-E 3)
Apple is going hard to catch up on generative AI. (Image: Dall-E 3)
Apple is working hard to catch up to the competition in adding generative AI features to its devices, including its flagship iPhones. The company is busy acquiring start-ups and hiring AI specialists, but the new features aren’t likely to reach customers until late this year.

Steve Jobs was fond of a quote from ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky who in responding to a journalist about what made him different from other players was because “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” Jobs used it to describe Apple’s ability to see where technology was headed when he stunned the tech world with the game changing iPhone launch back in 2007. While Apple is now, and remains, the most valuable company in the world - just ahead of Microsoft - it has been noticeably absent from developments in generative AI technology taking the tech world by storm.

Of course, Apple is not a stranger to AI, incorporating machine learning into iPhone features like Deep Fusion, on-device intelligence behind Siri suggestions, and even Siri itself – although the latter has been lagging the competition for quite some time. However, while generative AI technology was taking off following the launch of OpenAI’s Chat GPT-4 in late 2022, Apple instead focused on the lead up to the launch of its Vision Pro AR/VR headset. The Vision Pro, of course, is not without its critics, especially as it is entering a market that has failed to take off thus far.

However, Apple has been working hard to catch up with the quiet launch of its first public generative AI model dubbed MLX late last year. Its AI researchers have also been hard at work developing innovative ways to use smartphone flash storage to supplement system RAM to run larger, more powerful large language models (LLMs) on-device. A fresh report from the Financial Times says that Apple has also been busy acquiring AI-related start-ups -- including WaveOne in March 2023 -- which had been developing AI-powered video compression. 

It doesn’t stop there, with financial services company Morgan Stanley advising its clients it had conducted a survey of Apple job postings revealing that nearly half in recent times have been for AI-related positions. The company is also said to have been testing a LLM dubbed “Ajax” internally which could possibly be behind a rumored – and long overdue – upgrade to Siri expected to debut in iOS 18 and the forthcoming versions of its other major operating systems. Generative AI-based photo, audio and video editing tools could also be unveiled, similar to recent features we’ve seen rolled out for the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Google’s Pixel 8 Pro.

The rumor mill points to a WWDC 2024 unveiling of Apple's new AI features this June, when Apple announces its latest software features to developers and the wider public. However, Apple customers will likely have to wait till November before they reach the iPhone 16 series and its other devices – roughly one year after first reaching Pixel users.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 01 > Apple pushing to catch up on AI suggest acquisitions, job postings
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2024-01-26 (Update: 2024-01-26)