Apple has reportedly acquired DarwinAI, a Canadian-based startup focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The deal was completed earlier this year and is believed to boost the tech giant’s AI ambitions. In February, CEO Tim Cook revealed during the company’s quarterly earnings call that it was devoting “an enormous amount of time and effort” to AI. Without revealing any details, he also hinted that some of these developments may be revealed later this year. Notably, reports suggest that the iOS 18 update may add new AI capabilities to the iPhone.

According to a report by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, the Cupertino-based tech giant 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 artificial intelligence division. The acquisition is believed to have happened recently as the report hinted that the deal could be officially announced later.

The startup’s co-founder and chief scientist, Alexander Wong, has also reportedly joined Apple as director of Machine Learning Research, the company’s AI division. In response to a Bloomberg inquiry on the matter, the iPhone maker said it “occasionally buys smaller technology companies.” However, the purpose and plans for this particular acquisition were not disclosed.

DarwinAI, according to his LinkedIn page, provided “manufacturers with a comprehensive 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 too it is reported invented a technique to make neural network models smaller and faster. It’s possible that Apple could use the same technology to bring AI models and features to its devices.

Although Cook hinted that AI is a major focus for the company in 2024, he did not reveal exactly what the company is planning. Some rumors suggest that Apple may be working on its own flagship model called AppleGPT. Other rumored 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 like Pages and Keynote, and etc. It is also being reported that the iOS 18 update, which is expected to arrive later this year alongside the iPhone 16 series, may bring several new AI features to Apple’s smartphones.

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