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Apple Reportedly Acquires Startup DarwinAI, Could Fuel Tim Cook’s AI Vision

Apple has reportedly acquired DarwinAI, a Canada-based startup focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The deal was struck earlier this year, and it is believed that it could boost the tech giant’s AI ambitions. In February, CEO Tim Cook revealed during the company’s quarterly earning calls that it was spending a “tremendous amount of time and effort” on AI. Not disclosing any details, he also hinted that some of these developments could be revealed later this year. Notably, reports have suggested that the iOS 18 update could add new AI capabilities to the iPhone.

According to a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the Cupertino-based tech behemoth not only bought DarwinAI but also hired many of its employees. Gurman also added, citing unnamed sources, that the new hires have joined Apple’s AI division. It is believed that the acquisition occurred recently as the report hints that the deal could be announced officially later.

The co-founder and Chief Scientist of the startup, Alexander Wong, has reportedly also joined Apple as a Director of Machine Learning Research, the company’s AI division. Responding to Bloomberg’s query into the matter, the iPhone maker said it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time”. However, it did not reveal the purpose and the plans for this particular acquisition.

DarwinAI, as per its LinkedIn page, provided “manufacturers an end-to-end solution to improve product quality and increase production efficiency.” It is said to have developed an AI system that can visually inspect components in the manufacturing process. Wong had also reportedly invented a technique to make neural network models smaller and faster. It could be that Apple could utilise the same technology to bring on-device AI models and features to its devices.

While Cook hinted that AI was a major focus for the company in 2024, he did not reveal what exactly the company is planning. Some rumours have suggested that Apple could be working on its native foundation model called AppleGPT. Other rumoured features include an enhanced version of Siri that can function as a chatbot similar to ChatGPT and Google Gemini, AI-generated playlists for Apple Music, AI integration into Apple’s productivity apps such as Pages and Keynote, and more. It is also reported that the iOS 18 update, which is expected to arrive later this year alongside the iPhone 16 series, could bring several new AI features for Apple smartphones.

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