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In what way will Apple actually land the big model in its own product system?

As tech giants have been trying to take over the AI space by launching AI-enabled software and hardware and services, Apple seems to have been keeping a cautious approach. However, in October last year, an analyst revealed that Apple could be planning to start introducing generative AI features by the end of 2024 with the release of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18. And now, with some new developments surfacing, it seems to be possible to get a glimpse of Apple’s new moves in this area.

According to reports, Apple will unveil iOS 18 with heavy AI features at WWDC this June, with its analyst Mark Gurman going so far as to describe iOS 18 as ‘one of the biggest, if not the biggest, iOS update in Apple’s history’. This comes after Bloomberg reported last November that Apple wanted iOS 18 to be its most “ambitious and compelling” update in years.

But what’s even more interesting is that on 28 January, a developer discovered technical code related to large models in the Developer Preview Beta of iOS 17.4. The code suggests that Apple is working on a new version of Siri powered by Big Model.

Siri is the iPhone’s voice assistant that can perform simple operations through voice commands, but since its answers are mainly based on search engines, it can answer a limited pattern of questions, and if generative AI is added, it might be able to answer more flexibly, such as giving some suggestions on top of answering questions.

Recently, the beta version of iOS 17.4 seems to have revealed some hints of a new version of Siri. The code shows that the new version includes a private framework called SiriSummarization, which calls on OpenAI’s ChatGPT API, and that the addition of this framework could make Siri even better at processing information and answering questions.

Siri to Get Major Upgrade with Large Language Model in iOS 18

Previously in July 2023, Apple created its own big model ‘Ajax’ and launched an internal chatbot codenamed ‘Apple GPT’ to test the capabilities of Ajax.

It’s unlikely that Apple will use someone else’s model to support its own AI features in iOS 18, so calling OpenAI’s ChatGPT API doesn’t mean that ChatGPT will be embedded in products like the iPhone. In fact, Apple appears to be using its own AI models to power the framework, and then comparing its results internally to those of ChatGPT to improve Siri’s answers.

Apple seems to be lagging quite a bit behind in this AI race, though. However, from the beginning of last year, when it started training the big model Ajax, to now, with the imminent arrival of iOS 18, Apple seems to be ready to take a major step forward in the AI space.

As Geek Park mentioned in a previous report, Apple actually showed its exploration of AI at a very early stage, but just kept a relatively low profile. Traditionally, Apple hasn’t been in a rush to introduce new technology, especially if it’s not fully proven. Whether it’s iPods, smartphones, or iPads, Apple only enters the market after it has identified a superior solution. While this strategy may have allowed Apple to get a late start in some technology areas, it has ensured that Apple can deliver products that are mature and outperform the market.

In the area of generative AI, Apple is following the same strategy. iOS’s update in this version not only signals Apple’s ambitions for generative AI, but it could also signal a major update to its smartphone operating system. As Gurman notes, iOS 18 could be one of the biggest updates in Apple’s history.

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