Chinese media is reporting that Apple is buying AI services from local tech giant Baidu. The WSJ had earlier reported that the iPhone maker had been in discussions with the company, to use its AI smarts in iOS 18.

Baudi operates a ChatGPT-style LLM known as ERNIE Bot, which claims to “comprehend human intentions and deliver accurate, logical, and fluent responses approaching human level” …

Apple’s generative AI push this year

There’s now incontrovertible evidence that Apple is making a major push into generative AI services with this year’s iOS and macOS updates.

Things kicked off in October of last year, when Bloomberg said that the company was working hard to catch up with capabilities like ChatGPT, later saying Apple was referring to iOS 18 as “ambitious and compelling.” By January, it was said to be viewing the upcoming OS as the biggest in the company’s history.

The Financial Times concurred, specifically stating that Siri is to get ChatGPT-level capabilities, and Apple CEO Tim Cook himself teased that the company would “share the details of our ongoing work in this space later this year.”

Apple buying AI services from Baidu

The WSJ and Dow Jones report that shares in Baidu rose more than 5% today, following Chinese media outlet Cailian Press reporting that Baidu was set to become Apple’s local generative Al model.

Baidu climbed 5.4% on Monday morning after a Chinese media outlet reported the collaboration, citing people familiar with the matter […]

According to a report from Chinese media Cailian Press, the people said Baidu will become Apple’s local generative AI model provider for the iPhone 16, the Mac computer operating system and the upcoming mobile operating system iOS 18.

Report unconfirmed, but plausible

Neither Apple nor Baidu has commented, but the report does seem plausible.

One of the challenges of generative AI is that models need to be trained in a range of different languages, and certainly by region if not by country. Apple will need a Chinese model, and it also needs to be one which has been approved for use by the government.

Chinese regulators have to approve generative AI models before they can be launched to the public. Baidu’s Ernie Bot is one of more than 40 models that have already been approved.

Baidu is also said by analysts to be a leading player in generative AI in the country, and to be exceeding expectations.

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