UPDATED 21:31 EDT / JUNE 23 2024


Rivals Apple and Meta Platforms reportedly discussing generative AI partnership

In a bid not to be left behind in the race to integrate advanced generative artificial capabilities into its hardware, Apple Inc. is reportedly discussing a partnership with its longtime rival Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook.

The proposed partnership would see Apple integrate Meta’s Llama 3 large language model with the Apple Intelligence feature suite that’s set to launch on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers later this year.

Announced earlier this month, Apple Intelligence will debut with the upcoming iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and Mac OS updates in the next few months. It will integrate generative AI capabilities into Apple’s devices, enabling users to ask questions, generate and summarize text, create and edit images and more.

Apple’s decision to try to partner with Meta is intriguing, given that the two companies have never exactly been best buddies. Their relationship notably soured in 2021 when Apple introduced privacy changes to its mobile devices that would make it harder for Meta to sell targeted ads. According to Meta, that decision cost it around $10 billion in lost revenue in 2022. They also compete in virtual reality headsets.

However, the need to keep up in the generative AI race may convince both companies to put those issues aside and reach an agreement on cooperation.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the talks today, said the integration of Llama 3 would likely be similar to a deal Apple made with OpenAI, whose ChatGPT is currently the only third-party AI model in Apple Intelligence. Although Apple has developed some of its one, smaller LLMs in-house, it has said it will rely on third parties to perform more complex tasks.

For example, Apple said that if a user asks Siri a tricky question such as “How to cook a five-course meal featuring different tastes?” it will ask the user if they’d like to send that request to ChatGPT. If the user agrees, ChatGPT will supply the answer directly within Siri. In addition, Apple will also make ChatGPT available through its Writing Tools panel, for users who need to generate text such as an email or essay.

According to the terms of Apple’s deal with OpenAI, ChatGPT will not be allowed to collect user’s data, and it must delete any chat histories once the user has finished interacting with it.

While OpenAI is the first partner announced, Apple has said it’s interested in partnering with other AI developers, and has reportedly held talks with Google LLC over using its Gemini LLM family, as well as startups such as Anthropic PBC.

According to the Journal, Apple’s deal with OpenAI won’t involve any money being handed over. Instead, it will allow OpenAI to sell premium subscriptions to ChatGPT via Apple Intelligence, with Apple taking a cut because any such purchases would be processed via the Apple App Store.

But it’s not clear if Meta would be open to a similar deal, as its Llama 3 model is one of the best-known open-source generative AI models around. It doesn’t charge for access.

Image: Unsplash

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