Apple to offer developers AI help — what it means for the apps you use

Xcode is Apple's developer environment
(Image credit: Apple/XCode)

Apple has almost finished working on a new generative AI tool for app developers that could rival Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot. This would significantly speed up development time and make it easier to make new apps for the App Store.

The tech giant has been working on this project for at least the past year, according to Mark Gurman reporting for Bloomberg.  It would also likely allow developers to be more creative and bring a wider range of features to their applications.

It is expected to be part of the next version of Xcode — Apple’s suite of tools that developers use to build apps for Apple platform — as early as the end of this year.

While this is still largely rumor, it makes sense that Apple would look to upgrade and simplify the process of building apps. We could see the first preview of Xcode 16 with the new AI helper during June's reportedly AI-focused WWDC.

Built for internal testing

GitHub Copilot

(Image credit: GitHub)

While the software tool’s name hasn’t leaked yet, it’s expected to compete with GitHub Copilot in terms of functionality, but with a focus on Apple's programming languages including Swift and SwiftUI. 

Interestingly, back in May, Apple employees were advised not to use Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot over fears of confidential data being leaked.

If Apple's new tool works the same way as GitHub Copilot it could significantly speed up workflow for developers by predicting  and completing strings of code for them. It could also potentially write code to test their apps. 

There are already extensions for Xcode such as CopilotForXcode by Shx Guo that let you integrate GitHub Copilot itself into your workflow. Microsoft's AI tool is well versed in Swift and SwiftUI, but its likely any native AI will have a better grasp on its intricacies, not to mention deeper Xcode integration.

Then again, if the AI continues to evolve and advance it could potentially bring the ability to create apps to the average iPad or iPhone user — something Apple has already attempted to do with its Swift Playgrounds app. 

Whether such tools will threaten developers or allow them to create apps for a new era of technology remains to be seen.

Automatic playlists and slideshows

Other AI features in Apple products as reported by Bloomberg include the automatic creation of Apple Music playlists as well as slides in its business presentation software Keynote. This hints at a full AI upgrade for the iWork suite.

A new version of Apple’s Spotlight search feature on its devices could help users control specific iOS app features — they’d use it as if they were chatting with a chatbot. This could closely resemble upgrades recently made to the Ark browser.

Rumors have  been circulating for some time that the iPhone maker is creating a new GPT-powered version of Siri to launch at WWDC 2024 in June. The company’s acquisitions have also hinted towards Apple making a bold move in the field of AI.

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Christoph Schwaiger

Christoph Schwaiger is a journalist who mainly covers technology, science, and current affairs. His stories have appeared in Tom's Guide, New Scientist, Live Science, and other established publications. Always up for joining a good discussion, Christoph enjoys speaking at events or to other journalists and has appeared on LBC and Times Radio among other outlets. He believes in giving back to the community and has served on different consultative councils. He was also a National President for Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global organization founded in the USA. You can follow him on Twitter @cschwaigermt.