Apple announces deal with OpenAI. Will it be a game-changer?

Apple on Monday unveiled new artificial intelligence capabilities in its newest operating system, including connecting its interactive voice feature Siri with OpenAI’s ChatGPT in a major deal that could supercharge adoption of the fast-developing technology.

Siri will be able to surface answers from ChatGPT for Apple devices and provide relevant contextual information across several apps, the Cupertino tech giant said at its developer conference. The iPhone and iPad maker’s newest operating system update will also feature AI-augmented improvements in its photo editing and image search capabilities.

Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook described Apple’s new AI-based functions, dubbed Apple Intelligence, as the next big step for the company.

“Recent developments in generative intelligence and large language models offer powerful capabilities that provide the opportunity to take the experience of using Apple products to new heights,” Cook said in a keynote address during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

The move signals Apple’s wider ambitions in the expanding AI landscape, as technology has progressed dramatically. Tools made by San Francisco-based OpenAI have been used to create music videos, read bedtime stories to children and help brainstorm ideas for writers.

Apple presented several uses for Apple’s new AI features. For example, if an iPhone user gets a notification that a work meeting has been moved to a later time, she can ask Siri how much time it would take for her to get from where the meeting is located to her daughter’s play that night. In another hypothetical instance, an iPad user could share a photo of an empty patio and ask Siri what type of furniture they should add.

The company also said users can utilize Apple Intelligence to make suggestions for their writing, using it to analyze the tone of a note with options to make it more friendly or professional.

The announcement of the OpenAI deal “kicks off a new frontier for Apple,” said Daniel Ives, a managing director at Wedbush Securities who follows Apple.

Apple hopes adding new AI tools to its products and services will make them more useful to customers and thus more attractive. Ives said that AI technology introduced to Apple’s ecosystem will bring more opportunities for Apple to generate revenue, including through a potential AI App Store and other services.

Through its deal with OpenAI, Apple’s digital assistant Siri can ask Apple users if Siri can relay a question to ChatGPT for further information. By doing so, this allows Apple to harness ChatGPT’s platform and in return, Apple users also become familiar with ChatGPT and what it can do. Every day, Apple said, Siri gets 1.5 billion voice requests.

Some tech companies, including Apple, didn’t anticipate the breakthroughs in AI over the past year, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with advisory services firm Endele Group. The partnership with OpenAI is one way for Apple to catch up. One of OpenAI’s major backers is Microsoft, a chief Apple rival.

“Apple’s been significantly behind on AI,” Enderle said. “This is a method to allow Apple to make up for the fact that they haven’t been focused on AI like they should have done over the last decade or so.”

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