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Google might let Apple use Gemini, but Apple still has its own LLM coming

Apple is working on an LLM called MM1.
By

Published onMarch 19, 2024

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TL;DR
  • Apple recently published a research paper on a large language model it has been working on.
  • The company calls its AI architecture MM1.
  • MM1 could be used to build generative AI tools that would run on-device.

When it comes to AI, we’ve seen plenty of products — like ChatGPT and Gemini — from major players in the tech space including Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI. While those companies have been churning out generative AI solutions left and right, Apple has been fairly quiet on this front. But if you thought Apple may be asleep at the wheel, a recently published research paper suggests otherwise.

Apple quietly submitted a research paper last week related to its work on a multimodal large language model (MLLM) called MM1. Apple doesn’t explain what the meaning behind the name is, but it’s possible it could stand for MultiModal 1.

Being multimodal, MM1 is capable of working with both text and images. Overall, its capabilities and design are similar to the likes of Google’s Gemini or Meta’s open-source LLM Llama 2.

An earlier report from Bloomberg said Apple was interested in incorporating Google’s Gemini AI engine into the iPhone. The two companies are reportedly still in talks to let Apple license Gemini to power some of the generative AI features coming to iOS 18.

While Apple attempts to secure that license, it may be planning to use MM1 for other purposes. According to Wired, the Cupertino firm may be angling to use Gemini as a replacement for conventional Google Search. Meanwhile, a former employee who led AI research at Apple, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, believes the company may focus on building generative AI tools off of MM1 that run on-device, the outlet says.

Another report from Bloomberg last week mentioned that Apple had acquired Canadian AI startup DarwinAI, which specializes in creating smaller and faster AI systems. This is a key factor for on-device processing and could play right into the role Salakhutdinov is suggesting.

It’s still unknown when Apple could start launching these AI products. However, CEO Tim Cook did say during the company’s annual shareholder meeting that AI is already at work behind the scenes in Apple’s products but there would be more news on explicit AI features later this year.

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