"Apple GPT" is here, but only behind closed doors.

Behold: Ajax

Apple is secretly working on AI tools and an internally used AI chatbot, Bloomberg reports, which engineers in the company have nicknamed "Apple GPT."

The news could be the first serious sign that the tech monolith is finally entering the generative AI race, though it reportedly has no plans to release its product anytime soon.

According to Bloomberg, an experimental version of Apple's chatbot was created by a small team before the end of last year. Though "Apple GPT" has gradually been used by more engineers, the company is keeping access to it tight over security concerns. Intriguingly, employees have been forbidden from using the chatbot to develop products that will be used by customers.

To develop the large language model (LLM) that powers the chatbot, Apple is using an in-house generative AI system known as "Ajax,'' according to internal sources, built on the Google JAX framework.

Ajax runs on cloud services provided by Google, and has already been used to make "AI-related improvements" to some of Apple's existing features, like its virtual assistant Siri and Apple Maps app.

Sleeping Giant

Until now, Apple has been strangely distant — if not downright absent — in the rapid AI boom spearheaded by the likes of OpenAI's ChatGPT, whose name has become so synonymous with the technology that not even Apple's engineers could resist using it as a shorthand.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has shared in OpenAI's success through a multi-billion dollar partnership that's leveraged ChatGPT's tech into powering its own Bing AI search assistant. Other competitors like Google have also made waves through its Bard AI, with Meta also in the wings.

Of course, Apple has been slowly making strides in AI for years now, led by its 2018 hiring of John Giannandre, who previously led Google's search and AI efforts. It just hasn't made a big splash about its work.

Still, for anything resembling ChatGPT, Apple really only has Siri to show for itself, which was a big deal when it first released a decade ago, but is now decidedly outmoded. It's more an occasionally useful gimmick to do simple tasks on your iPhone, which is not really impressive in an age when ChatGPT can spit out entire papers on demand and hold down lengthy conversations.

To that end, Siri seems a prime candidate for Apple to integrate its LLM technology into, as Bloomberg speculated — though it's still unclear just how any of its generative AI tools will be officially debuted.

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