ChatGPT on iPhone now looks like a done deal for WWDC 2024 — everything you need to know

Open AI and Apple logos
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WWDC 2024 is just days away, and a new report suggests that the Apple and OpenAI partnership is coming to iOS 18, but with some interesting wrinkles that could change the long-term outlook for both companies.

The report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests that while Apple will work with OpenAI to bring generative AI features, the deal could be short-term, with Apple focusing on its own AI efforts in the long run. Apple doesn't want to be left behind by Google, Samsung, and other companies that are heavily integrating AI into their devices, so the company could enter this partnership to get something out there for its massive user base. 

In return, OpenAI would get its ChatGPT service to reach a large number of users who might not otherwise be willing to engage with it through a third-party app. If the generative AI is built into iOS, Apple users might feel more comfortable using it for daily tasks. Then, even when the temporary partnership ends, OpenAI might be able to grab some other Apple users who grew accustomed to ChatGPT. Alternatively, those users might just use whatever Apple is frantically working on. 

What analysts think of Apple-OpenAI deal 

We contacted analyst Avi Greengart of Techsponential for some additional insight into Apple's AI plans. "If Apple considers generative AI a core part of its products it seems unlikely that Apple would be willing to outsource that to another company over the long term. That said, if you were compiling a list of AI companies that Apple would want to work with — and doesn't already compete with — OpenAI would be at the top of that list," said Greengart. 

If Apple considers generative AI a core part of its products it seems unlikely that Apple would be willing to outsource that to another company over the long term.

Avi Greengart, Techsponential

So why not partner with Google instead? After all, Apple already pays Google billions each year for Google to be the default search partner in the Safari browser.

"I would imagine it is easier to white label ChatGPT than Google for whatever service Apple decides they want to focus on," said Carolina Milanesi at Creative Strategies. "Google represents more competition especially as it seems that hardware is becoming more of a showcase for their AI."

Why ChatGPT will be opt-in on iPhone 

Of course, even if it's just temporary, there are risks associated with partnering with OpenAI. Apple's willingness to work around these risks demonstrates the importance of a strong generative AI foundation for the company.  

"There is implementation risk — i.e., ChatGPT provides incorrect or inappropriate responses — and reputational risk — I.e., Sam Altman or OpenAI do something antithetical to Apple's brand or develop Skynet. I'm more worried about the former, which directly impacts the Apple user experience," Greengart said. 

Another key detail from Gurman's report is that Apple plans to make the ChatGPT features in iOS opt-in, which means they wouldn't be turned on by default. Instead, users would need to go into their device's settings and turn it on. This means that OpenAI doesn't capture every iOS user automatically. That's a smart move on Apple's part, as some users might not want to engage with AI, but it definitely makes the potential deal less exciting for OpenAI. 

In the end, it really comes down to which company needs the other more. Does Apple need to get AI up and running more quickly than OpenAI needs to attract a giant chunk of new users for Apple's mobile OS? The situation seems about equal since both sides appear willing to work together on a mutually beneficial deal, even if it's only short-term.

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Dave LeClair
Senior News Editor

Dave LeClair is the Senior News Editor for Tom's Guide, keeping his finger on the pulse of all things technology. He loves taking the complicated happenings in the tech world and explaining why they matter. Whether Apple is announcing the next big thing in the mobile space or a small startup advancing generative AI, Dave will apply his experience to help you figure out what's happening and why it's relevant to your life.