Apple might not need a ChatGPT chatbot for iPhone AI to beat rivals

I’m a longtime iPhone user who has been using generative AI products for quite a while now, with a big focus on ChatGPT. But my genAI experience is limited to talking to some sort of chatbot. Whether it’s ChatGPT, Copilot, Gemini, or Perplexity, I’m essentially chatting with AI.

Apple has to play catch-up to all those services, and most rumors agree that Apple won’t have a ChatGPT equivalent of its own ready in time for the arrival of iOS 18. That’s why Apple might have to integrate ChatGPT or Gemini into iOS to ensure that base is covered.

Alongside that third-party chatbot, Apple might deliver a different approach of its own to AI. It might be one that could help it beat rivals like Google and Microsoft, even though Apple is playing catchup.

I told you how I use genAI products because I’m not a normal iPhone user. Yes, I’d be interested in ChatGPT and similar products, even if such interests weren’t part of my job. I genuinely believe genAI can transform computing in ways we can’t even imagine yet. But I do follow generative AI news more closely than most regular iPhone users, and I try every new service that pops up.

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What I’m getting at is that plenty of regular iPhone users might not be exposed to ChatGPT and Gemini. They might not use genAI products even if they’re aware of their existence. Then again, thanks to the big Google Search AI Overviews fumbles, plenty of iPhone users have unwillingly experienced genAI in the past few weeks.

ChatGPT with no login or signupUsing ChatGPT on the web without a login. Image source: OpenAI

People who aren’t currently reliant on ChatGPT and other chatbots might find Apple’s implementation of AI more useful. They might not even realize that genAI or machine learning is blowing up in popularity. That’s what a report from Bloomberg says.

Apple will be “focusing on tools that ordinary consumers can use in their daily lives,” Mark Gurman writes. “The idea is to appeal to a user’s practical side — and leave some of the more whiz-bang features to other companies.”

The reporter listed several AI features Apple is reportedly building into iOS 18 that could become useful tools people start taking for granted.

Project Greymatter

Gurman says Apple will spend plenty of time at WWDC 2024 next month talking about the fruits of Project Greymatter, the internal name for Apple’s suite of AI tools coming to iPhone apps. Here’s what genAI will do for you in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15, according to the report:

  • transcribe voice memos
  • retouch/edit photos
  • improve Spotlight searches by making them faster and more reliable
  • improve Safari web search
  • suggest replies to emails and text messages
  • support more natural-sounding interactions with Siri (based on Apple’s own large language modules
  • support a more advanced Siri on the Apple Watch
  • generate AI emojis on the fly based on what users are texting
  • deliver smart recaps of things they missed (summaries of notifications and individual text messages
  • summarize web pages, news, documents, and other forms of media

Finally, developer tools like Xcode will also get AI Integration.

These features will sound “boring” to anyone using genAI features already. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 and other flagships support the Galaxy AI suite of generative AI features. Google added Gemini to plenty of apps, and there’s deeper integration on its Pixel phones. Gemini integration will only grow with Android 15, and I’m not talking about chatbot functionality.

But Apple will have at least two key advantages. First, Apple can make these genAI features available to hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users at once. As soon as iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 roll out, the built-in genAI features will be available to them.

Gurman says Apple could become one of the main players in AI tech because of its large user base. I agree with that point of view. Apple’s approach to genAI on the iPhone and other devices might have a better chance than rivals. That’s assuming the iOS 18 AI features above are accurate and work as described.

Galaxy AI will transcribe voice notes for you.Galaxy AI will transcribe voice notes for you. Image source: Samsung

Secondly, Apple can make a bigger play about privacy than its rivals. Apparently, Apple wants all of its genAI features to run on the device. For those cases where cloud processing is needed, Apple will pass on data to its own servers.

But Gurman says that Apple will probably “tout the security features of the M-series chips that it’s using to conduct the cloud processing” and reassure users it’s not building profiles of customers with the information.

What about ChatGPT functionality?

The report also notes that Apple won’t be able to deliver its own ChatGPT chatbot and that some execs oppose the need for one. But customers will want one, and that’s something I agree with. I already use ChatGPT via the standalone app, but I’d love it if the chatbot got deeper integration.

The report doubles down on something Gurman has said recently. Apple has apparently chosen ChatGPT to power the chatbot features in iOS 18, even though Gemini seemed to be the favorite a few months ago. The Apple-OpenAI partnership will become official at WWDC, the report notes.

Gemini AI on Pixel phones: How Magic Compose works inside Google Messages.Gemini AI on Pixel phones: How Magic Compose works inside Google Messages. Image source: Google

Interestingly, the report says Apple is also working with Google for potential Gemini integration just so it has an alternative to ChatGPT. Such a deal is meant to ensure Apple isn’t stuck with ChatGPT, as OpenAI comes with risks. The recent developments around ChatGPT made me worry about OpenAI, even though I still prefer it over Google.


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