Key Takeaways

  • Apple has fallen behind in AI innovation compared to Microsoft and Google, but may integrate AI features into iOS 18 through a potential partnership with Google.
  • Financial gains are a key motivator for Apple’s collaboration with Google, mirroring past successes seen with Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
  • Privacy concerns arise as Apple, known for prioritizing user privacy, may have to compromise by partnering with Google, a brand not known for the same level of privacy protection.

While Microsoft (read OpenAI) and Google have been fighting it out on the AI front, Apple has rather been quiet when it comes to AI. While there are reports of Apple’s work on various AI features and even a project named “AppleGPT,” there are no final AI products from the company yet. However, it looks like Apple will be integrating many AI features into the upcoming iOS 18 software upgrade, possibly through a partnership with Google.

According to a recent report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple and Google are reportedly in “active negotiations” that would see the Cupertino giant use Google’s Gemini model for some new features coming in iOS 18. While the specifics about the partnership, including the terms and branding of the AI agreement, remain undecided, the companies are actively exploring the possibilities.

According to the report, Apple wants most AI features in iOS 18 to work offline and on-device. However, for some features that would require more powerful hardware, Apple reportedly wants to partner with a company that is already equipped with such capabilities and hence is considering partnering with Google for the Gemini model. But is it really a good move for Apple?

AI is clearly the future, and Apple is trailing behind

AI is clearly the future. It is what is driving the industry right now, and most consumer tech brands are looking for a way to integrate AI into their products and services, not only to stay relevant but also to enhance their overall value proposition. And on this front, companies like Microsoft and Google have taken the lead. While Apple has been rumored to be working on its own AI model — the company recently published details about its ‘MM1’ AI Model — there is no final product from the company just yet.

Microsoft Market Cap before chatgpt launch vs today

And then, there’s financial motivation as well, which plays a significant role for these companies. Take Microsoft, for instance. Since OpenAI’s announcement of ChatGPT, in which Microsoft is a major investor, the company’s market cap has nearly doubled. Similarly, Google has experienced comparable benefits. It’s likely that Apple seeks to capitalize on this trend as well, hence its potential collaboration with Google for AI features in iOS 18. But, is Google the right partner for this?

Google’s rocky path with AI

Sundar Pichai at Google io 2023 ai launch

Google, under Sundar Pichai’s leadership, has experienced its own share of hiccups when it comes to AI products. The launch of Bard seemed rushed and received poor reviews compared to competitors when it was first announced. The company then used its I/O 2023 to showcase a number of AI innovations — using the term ‘AI’ over 150 times — and, since then, Google, in the typical Google fashion, has killed Bard in favor of the rebrand to Gemini just last fall. It appears Google was caught off guard by the rapid development pace of OpenAI’s AI products and felt the need to catch up.

However, despite the initial setbacks, Google has been working hard to improve Gemini and its AI offerings. The company has been adding a bit of AI magic to all of its services, be it Gmail, Google Sheets, or Docs, and the response is turning out to be quite positive. The company is also working to incorporate Gen AI into its Search. However, OpenAI has been making massive strides in this field, and even plans to launch a realistic text-to-video tool, called Sora, later this year. Currently, OpenAI appears to be the leading when it comes to… well, AI.

Is Apple’s use of Google’s AI tech a wise choice?

apple youtube

So, is Apple using Google’s Gemini tech for AI features a good idea – even though Google’s position seems to be lagging behind its competitors? On one hand, it seems logical for Apple to collaborate with Google, as Google has already partnered with Samsung for AI-based features in the latest Samsung Galaxy S24 series, bringing features like Circle to Search, a live translator that works even during calls, and a suite of photo-editing features as well. So it would make sense for Apple to opt for the same brand for AI features on the iPhone, given Google’s existing collaboration with another major brand.

But, the situation isn’t so straightforward. While Circle to Search has garnered praise, other features such as photo editing and live translation haven’t performed as well on the Galaxy S24 series. And although Apple may implement things differently, the current implementation of Gemini AI on phones doesn’t inspire much confidence.

There are concerns about privacy as well

Privacy concerns further complicate the picture. Apple is renowned for prioritizing user privacy. Remember those iPhone privacy campaigns and and the introduction of the ad tracking tool that prompted Meta to alter its approach to tracking app user interaction. Yes, Apple goes big when it comes to privacy about its users.

However, by partnering with Google, a brand not known for prioritizing user privacy, will Apple maintain the same level of user confidence? While some users might be comfortable with this decision — and I’m sure Apple will deeply explain how it will preserve data even though the data would be processed on cloud — some users may perceive it as a compromise by Apple.

With WWDC just a few months away, Apple is reportedly looking for collaborations on the AI cloud front, and it will most likely ink a deal with Google. Although there’s talk of partnering with OpenAI as well, Google appears to be the more likely option at the moment. It remains to be seen how this unfolds in the coming months.

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