Apple's latest AI acquisition might give Google Gemini some serious competition

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What you need to know

  • Apple has apparently acquired Ontario-based startup DarwinAI, indicating its entry into the generative AI race.
  • DarwinAI specializes in AI for visual inspection of manufacturing components and has developed technology for making AI systems smaller and faster.
  • The purpose behind Apple's acquisition of DarwinAI remains unclear, but it could lead to enhancements in AI features for iOS 18.

Apple has reportedly scooped up another startup, and this time it's Ontario-based DarwinAI, as per Bloomberg.

Needless to say, Apple is a bit late to the generative AI race, what with ChatGPT and rivals from Microsoft and Google already dominating the market. But now that Apple is apparently jumping into the scene, it might mean the competition for on-device AI dominance is getting intense, especially with Google dropping its Gemini Nano model not too long ago.

According to Bloomberg, Apple snagged DarwinAI earlier this year. The Canadian startup specializes in AI for visually checking out manufacturing components. Plus, it has built technology to make AI systems smaller and faster.

There's still no official word from the tech giant, and Apple did not immediately return Android Central's request for comment.

That said, all signs point to it. Apple has already brought on board loads of DarwinAI's team, including co-founder Alexander Wong. The startup has also shut down its social media accounts and website. And if you check Wong's LinkedIn profile, he's been with Apple since January 2024, leading machine learning research.

Tim Cook revealed during Apple's earnings call in February that the company was planning to roll out generative AI-powered features "later this year." This acquisition could be the first big hint that Apple is preparing to inject on-device AI features into its upcoming products.

As of this time, Apple's AI use in current products is kind of restricted to the Apple Vision Pro and a bunch of AI-powered functionalities in iOS 17.

But the million-dollar question is: what will Apple do with DarwinAI? It's been keeping mum about its AI agenda. Considering DarwinAI's knack for making AI systems smaller and speedier, a smart bet would be on Apple's tech beefing up AI features in iOS 18.

Last year, when Google brought Gemini AI to the Pixel 8 Pro, it seemed like a direct jab at Apple's core business. But Apple hasn't really hinted at doing something similar with iOS and Siri this year.

Apple needs to hustle in the generative AI game, as OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft are all charging ahead with their own services.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.