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ChatGPT chatbot built into the iPhone software?

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Apple and OpenAI have yet to announce a deal to build the ChatGPT chatbot into the iPhone via the iOS 18 update this fall. And you can access ChatGPT, including the exciting GPT-4o update, via OpenAI’s official iPhone app right now.

But a report from Mark Gurman said a few days ago that Apple and OpenAI are finalizing talks to have ChatGPT built into iOS 18. This was the first time Google’s Gemini didn’t seem to be the frontrunner for the position. While Apple will bring its own take on generative AI features for the iPhone, most reports agree that Apple doesn’t have a ChatGPT/Gemini equivalent of its own to handle chatbot duties.

After last week’s powerful GPT-4o and Gemini demonstrations, it’s clear Apple would fall too far behind its rivals if it didn’t partner with either OpenAI or Gemini for iOS 18.

Fast-forward to Sunday’s Power On newsletter, Mark Gurman makes the same point. Apple is behind in AI and needs third-party help for iOS 18. But Gurman also makes it sound like Apple and OpenAI are almost ready to announce a deal, with both parties currently making preparations for the announcement.

Generative AI features in iOS 18

Gurman reiterates some of his previous scoops regarding Apple’s generative AI plans for the iPhone. Apple will go for on-device genAI features, which means the iPhone chips will process most AI functionalities. Apple’s own large language models would power these new AI tools.

But Apple will also need some cloud-based processing for some iPhone features that require AI. In this case, Apple will use its own data centers running on high-end Mac chips to perform the heavy computation.

Siri will get an upgrade in iOS 18 that includes “a more conversational feel.” Apple will reportedly add features that “help users with their day-to-day lives — an approach it calls ‘proactive intelligence.’”

Gurman actually detailed some of the expected genAI features in iOS 18:

That includes services like auto-summarizing notifications from your iPhone, giving a quick synopsis of news articles and transcribing voice memos, as well as improving existing features that auto-populate your calendar and suggest apps. There will also be some enhancements to photos in the form of AI-based editing, but none of those features will impress people who have used AI in Adobe Inc.’s apps for the last several months.

iPhone 15 Pro Dynamic Island
The iPhone’s Camera app next to the Settings app. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The ChatGPT deal for the iPhone

However, Apple will not have a chatbot ready for mass consumption, at least not one that can match the powers of ChatGPT or Gemini.

Gurman also points out that some Apple executives are “allergic” to the idea of Apple making its own chatbot. They’re looking to avoid any controversies that plagued companies like Google in the short history of chatbots.

At the same time, Apple knows some iPhone users will want a chatbot. That’s where OpenAI comes in. The way Gurman describes the negotiations between the two in the newsletter makes it seem like the deal has either been made or is imminent. Apparently, both companies are working on integrating ChatGPT into iOS 18:

But the company knows consumers will demand such a feature, and so it’s teaming up with OpenAI to add the startup’s technology to iOS 18, the next version of the iPhone’s software. The companies are preparing a major announcement of their partnership at WWDC, with Sam Altman-led OpenAI now racing to ensure it has the capacity to support the influx of users later this year.

While Apple will continue to work on its own chatbot, having ChatGPT built into the iPhone will do the job for now. That’s apparently what Apple believes, according to the same report:

For now, it believes the combination of its homegrown AI features (both on devices and in the cloud) and the OpenAI deal will be enough to get the job done.

As a longtime iPhone user looking forward to Apple’s AI features in iOS 18, I’ll say that I prefer ChatGPT over Google Gemini. I’ve made that point repeatedly in the past few weeks. Most recently, the mind-blowing GPT-4o demos further sealed the matter for me.

Whatever the case, we have less than a month to go until WWDC 2024. Hopefully, Apple will tell us everything about its ChatGPT deal during the show.



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