Baidu may provide AI functions for Apple’s iPhone 16, more details exposed

Today's "Science and Technology Innovation Board Daily" exclusively reported that Baidu will provide AI functions for Apple products and systems such as the National Bank version of iPhone 16, and is expected to adopt an API interface for billing. Apple has also approached Alibaba to negotiate with another large domestic model company.

Baidu may not be Apple's only partner. Last week, media reported that a number of overseas technology giants, including Google, OpenAI, and Anthropic, have contacted Apple to negotiate the introduction of generative AI technology on the iPhone.

However, "Kechuangban Daily" pointed out that overseas iPhones will use Apple's own large models. The reason why mainland China adopts Baidu's large model may be to quickly solve the compliance issues of AI in the Chinese market.

During his trip to Shanghai last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned Apple's current AI applications and once again confirmed that more news about Apple's AI will be disclosed this year.

Apple’s ambiguous attitude towards generative AI

Compared with leading technology companies such as Microsoft and Google, Apple, which has not yet launched a chatbot, can be said to be "one step behind" in its AI efforts. Judging from the fact that Apple is discussing AI technology cooperation with a number of third-party technology companies, Apple may have "moderate interest" in developing generative AI technology.

Technology reporter Mark Gurman reported that Apple will provide an AI chatbot in the system in order to satisfy consumers, but the company itself may have "little interest" in it. By cooperating with third parties, Apple can also charge "high" fees. It is reported that in order to make Google search the default search engine for Apple devices, Google will spend 18 billion US dollars a year.

Google has provided Gemini technology to Samsung, and the Galaxy AI launched in the new mobile phone Galaxy S24 embodies many of Google's AI functions: fast intelligent search of screen content, or more intelligent editing effects on pictures, and real-time Translate during a call, etc.

There are many benefits to using third-party technology. Cooperation with Baidu can make Apple's AI assistant quickly available in China. Microsoft's Copilot has only recently opened some Office functions to Microsoft 365 enterprise users in mainland China, and most online functions are not yet available.

And by using third-party technology, Apple itself does not have to bear too many ethical and privacy responsibilities, as well as the high cost of large AI cloud models.

However, before news of the negotiations with Google broke out, Apple engineers published a paper online revealing some details of the AI ​​large language model MM1 being developed by Apple. It is reported that MM1 seems to be similar in design and complexity to other large language models such as Gemini. And MM1 also has the feasibility of providing technical support for chatbots.

Related papers illustrate MM1's ability in picture recognition and reasoning: MM1 saw a sun-dappled restaurant table with pictures of several beer bottles and menus, and was asked "How much do people have to pay for the beer on the table?" "cost", MM1 read out the menu prices and calculated the price of the beer.

Mark Gurman also reported that Apple has also been testing a large model code-named Ajax and a chatbot called Apple GPT, but people familiar with the matter said these technologies are not as good as tools from Google and other competitors. At present, it is unclear how MM1 relates to Ajax and Apple GPT.

It is reported that Apple’s own development model prefers offline local operation. Darwin AI, an AI startup it acquired some time ago, also has core technology of making AI systems smaller and faster.

However, the current local generative AI technology is difficult to undertake the relatively heavy image and text generation. This may be why Apple wants to choose to cooperate with a third-party company with a relatively mature AI cloud model, and be the first to launch an AI chatbot with relatively complete functions. , even though that may not be Apple's ultimate goal.

Apple’s different AI strategy

Apple's "late development" in generative AI and the disappointing performance of its voice assistant Siri can easily make people think that it ignores AI. But in fact, Apple has been secretly making efforts in AI and launched specific functions on its products.

In an interview in China, Cook said that AI has been used in many aspects of Apple products, such as the Apple Watch's fall detection and the iPhone's predictive text input function.

The "Siri Suggestions" function introduced by Apple on iOS 9 provides app suggestions and automatic suggestions for schedules and emails based on scenarios. It is actually a very early AI and machine learning function on Apple systems.

In addition, photo face recognition on iOS, long press to quickly cut out pictures, Spotlight text search for pictures, etc. are not "big", but they are all very practical functions, and they are all implemented using AI technology.

Apple's attitude toward AI is actually very "conservative." According to reports, Apple spends a lot of time discussing how it views AI, and also handles the relationship between AI learning and privacy very carefully – this may also be why Apple is more obsessed with running AI locally, not only expecting a better experience, but also more Protect user data and privacy. Even when releasing system functions related to machine learning, avoid using words such as "AI".

Perhaps for Apple, AI should be gradually embedded into products to "moisten things silently", rather than independently and centrally embodying intelligent learning technology like a chatbot.

But whether it's due to market competition or consumer demand, Apple needs to quickly integrate system-level chatbot technology into its next-generation system. I'm afraid it won't be able to polish it as carefully as Vision Pro. Therefore, in order to launch usable generative AI functions as soon as possible, Apple has no choice but to cooperate with third parties.

Directly calling the M3 MacBook Air "the best consumer AI notebook" may also reflect a certain shift in Apple's attitude towards AI, and it has begun to face the market's response to its own AI technology and products. This year's WWDC may also see more of Apple's thinking on AI, which may change its current "follower" posture in the AI ​​field.

Perhaps the development path of Apple’s generative AI will be similar to Apple’s own map application: it initially relied on Google Map, and later used self-research. It may be bad at the beginning, but it will get better and better (and China has always been the domestic data source ).

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