Apple's integration with ChatGPT is just the beginning — Google Gemini is coming and maybe an AI App Store

WWDC 2024
(Image credit: Apple)

ChatGPT from OpenAI is about to become a bigger part of Apple’s ecosystem — but not as big of a part as some social media platform-owning tech billionaires might suggest.

Although there was early speculation that GPT-4o, the new flagship AI voice assistant coming soon to ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, might also power Siri, this is not the case. Instead, Siri’s brain comes from advanced local language models and secure cloud-based AI.

However, Apple has tightly integrated ChatGPT into the Apple Intelligence workflow on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. What this means is you’ll be able to send an idea off to ChatGPT if it's something the local models can’t handle themselves. It will be opt-in with a warning from Siri.

What this approach means is that in the future we could see ChatGPT as the default third-party chatbot but with the option to swap it out for your preferred model — such as Google Gemini. 

Apple's legendary engineer and Senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi — the man with the hair — even said Gemini would be available as an option in future.

So why change models?

Apple Intelligence Availability

Apple Intelligence will work on any phone with the A17 Pro or later (right now that is only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max) and any Mac or iPad with the M1 or later. It won't work on Intel-based Macs or earlier iPhones.

Right now there are several things you can change or make a default on the iPhone or your Mac, including the browser, email client and music player — so why not the AI model?

One of the early rumors surrounding Apple’s approach to AI, long before Apple Intelligence was confirmed as the name, was that we’d see Apple launch a new AI Store. It wasn’t clear at the time what this meant and many assumed it would be a page in the App Store.

The number of chatbots powered by large language models, multimodal models or even vision models — as we're starting to see from OpenAI — has grown considerably over the last 18 months. You can see some of them on my list of the best alternatives to ChatGPT.

There are different personalities associated with different chatbots. For example, Elon Musk’s Grok is wonderfully honest, whereas Inflection’s Pi is kind and patient.

Some have functionalities that others don't such as a large context window or coding, and then some features are not necessarily widely supported but might be particularly useful for people in a specific sector or with different interests such as more precision and accuracy.

These would each provide additional value to the user experience that can’t be provided by the assistant-focused Siri running in a secure environment on your phone or private cloud.

What does Apple get out of this?

Siri will act as your personal assistant performing tasks on your behalf. It will be there to help you when you need it. Apple Intelligence will power things like simple summaries and rewriting clumsy phrasing — then you'll be able to pick your choice of chatbot to handle the rest.

In one way this is a clever move for Apple because it offsets the potential risk of an EU antitrust case for the company to open up access to a range of different AI assistants

In one way this is a clever move for Apple because it offsets the potential risk of an EU antitrust case for the company to open up access to a range of different AI assistants in the same way that you can change your default assistant on Android.

Apple will also be able to take a share of the subscription revenue if you decide to sign up for the premium version of ChatGPT, Claude or Google Gemini. This store and ease of access to a range of AI models could also spur further developments from other companies.

Multiple leading AI providers like Mistral or xAI with Grok could make their bots accessible in this format. They just won't have the Deep integration with the system, but that is Siri’s job.

The other area to consider is that Apple will also make its own locally running models for text summary writing sentiment analysis and even image generation available to third-party developers so not only will there be an AI app store but the App Store will be more AI.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?