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Apple acquires AI startup to help create its own version of Gemini Nano

DarwinAI specializes in making AI models smaller and faster, hinting at on-device AI capabilities.
By

Published onMarch 14, 2024

A user accesses information using the Gemini app's photo analysis capabilities.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Apple acquired Canadian AI startup DarwinAI, which specializes in creating smaller and faster AI systems.
  • This move could be a step towards building on-device AI capabilities for upcoming Apple products.
  • Apple is expected to showcase new AI features in Siri, Messages, and more at WWDC in June.

The battle for on-device AI supremacy is heating up, with Apple following Google’s recent announcement of its Gemini Nano model. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple acquired Canadian AI startup DarwinAI earlier this year. DarwinAI specializes in creating smaller and faster AI systems, a key factor for on-device processing.

The report highlights that dozens of former DarwinAI employees, including AI researcher Alexander Wong, have joined Apple’s AI team. DarwinAI’s website and social media accounts have also been taken offline following the acquisition.

Apple typically remains tight-lipped about its acquisitions, simply stating that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.” However, this move could be the first big sign that Apple is aiming to integrate on-device AI functionalities into the upcoming iPhones and Macs.

On-device AI processing offers considerable benefits in terms of privacy and functionality. Local data processing can minimize sending sensitive user information to the cloud, enhancing user privacy. Plus, on-device AI allows users to access AI features even without an internet connection, not to mention the potentially reduced processing costs for frequently used features.

With CEO Tim Cook already hinting at upcoming AI announcements “later this year” during an earnings call last month, Apple is expected to unveil a significant number of AI-powered features for iOS 18 at WWDC in June. These might include an improved Siri, AI-powered functionalities in Messages, iWork, Apple Music, and more.

With WWDC just around the corner, hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to see how Apple plans to leverage its AI advancements in its upcoming products.

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