Apple Is the One Big Tech Company Without a Clear ChatGPT Strategy

The global excitement around ChatGPT, and the haste to copy it, resembles the introduction of an Apple product. Everyone is stoked to try it, and other tech companies are working late nights to reverse engineer it. This time, Apple is nowhere to be found. Has the speed of it all caught the world’s most influential tech company by surprise? From a report: Microsoft has poured $10 billion into OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and reconfigured how it builds server farms to accommodate more of Nvidia’s class-leading processors for training artificial intelligence. Alphabet’s Google has made responding to ChatGPT a top priority. Amazon has also jumped into the fray with its cloud division. That’s four of the world’s top seven most valuable companies, and yet, the most valuable of them all seems to have no ready answer for what’s coming. Bloomberg reported on an internal AI summit Apple held in February, when machine learning and other deployments of the tech across Apple products were discussed, but there was no hint of anything in the genre of generative AI.

AI in Apple products today is like irrigation for its walled garden, essential and helpful for an increasing number of functions, but ultimately it’s the hardware fruit that Apple sells. Generative AI could come in like a tidal wave. Apple, by all appearances, squandered the lead it established since becoming the first big tech company to make an AI-powered voice assistant. Siri was clearly flawed from the start, but it looks ancient by the standards of ChatGPT. To compete in this new AI race, companies need massive, bespoke computational clusters that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Cloud services are not Apple’s strongest suit right now, as its chief for that division is leaving, and iCloud has been the subject of lament in this very newsletter. The company is investing significant resources in the augmented-reality headset we expect to debut in June and the long-mooted, capital-intensive automotive initiative.

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Apple’s VR Headset Might Run Tweaked Versions of iPad Apps

Apple’s long-rumored VR / AR headset might run adapted versions of iPad apps, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The mixed reality device’s new interface will also apparently let users access “millions” of already-available apps on the App Store. And the headset’s apps might not be the only thing that might remind you of the iPad; the Home Screen and Control Center will apparently look like the iPad’s as well, Bloomberg says. The Verge reports: Here are some of the apps you can expect, according to Bloomberg:

– Apple is working on “optimized” versions of apps like Safari and many of the core apps you might already be familiar with from an iPhone, including “Apple’s services for calendars, contacts, files, home control, mail, maps, messaging, notes, photos and reminders, as well as its music, news, stocks and weather apps.”
– There will be headset versions of FaceTime and Apple TV with features that “will look similar to their iPad counterparts.”
– Apple is apparently testing a camera app, which could let you take pictures using its many rumored cameras.
– You’ll be able to read books in VR with Apple Books and meditate with an app.
– A headset-compatible version of its new Freeform app could let you collaborate with others in mixed reality.
– Freeform won’t be the only productivity app: the headset will also apparently support Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and GarageBand.
– Apple wants to make watching sports a “richer experience,” which could utilize technology it acquired when it bought NextVR.
– Gaming will “be a central piece of the device’s appeal.” (That feels like a smart decision.)

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Apple Blocks Update of ChatGPT-Powered App

Apple has delayed the approval of an email-app update with AI-powered language tools over concerns that it could generate inappropriate content for children, according to communications Apple sent to the app maker. The software developer disagrees with Apple’s decision. From a report: The dispute shows the broad concerns about whether language-generating artificial-intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, are ready for widespread use. Apple took steps last week to block an update of email app BlueMail because of concerns that a new AI feature in the app could show inappropriate content, according to Ben Volach, co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix, and documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. BlueMail’s new AI feature uses OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT chatbot to help automate the writing of emails using the contents of prior emails and calendar events. ChatGPT allows users to converse with an AI in seemingly humanlike ways and is capable of advanced long-form writing on a variety of topics.

“Your app includes AI-generated content but does not appear to include content filtering at this time,” Apple’s app-review team said last week in a message to the developer reviewed by the Journal. The app-review team said that because the app could produce content not appropriate for all audiences, BlueMail should move up its age restriction to 17 and older, or include content filtering, the documents show. Mr. Volach says it has content-filtering capabilities. The app’s restriction is currently set for users 4 years old and older. Apple’s age restriction for 17 and older is for categories of apps that may include everything from offensive language to sexual content and references to drugs. Mr. Volach says that this request is unfair and that other apps with similar AI functions without age restrictions are already allowed for Apple users.

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How Apple’s ‘Reality Pro’ Headset Will Work

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: Apple’s first AR/VR headset could be unveiled sometime this spring, and rumors continue to offer more information about what Apple has in the works. A wide-ranging new report from Bloomberg now offers a slew of details on Apple’s “Reality Pro” headset, including that the “eye- and hand-tracking capabilities will be a major selling point” for the product. Using external cameras, the headset will be able to analyze the user’s hands, while internal sensors will be used to read the user’s eyes.

The report explains: “The headset will have several external cameras that can analyze a user’s hands, as well as sensors within the gadget’s housing to read eyes. That allows the wearer to control the device by looking at an on-screen item — whether it’s a button, app icon or list entry — to select it. Users will then pinch their thumb and index finger together to activate the task — without the need to hold anything. The approach differs from other headsets, which typically rely on a hand controller.”

More details on the hardware of the headset include that there will be a Digital Crown similar to the Apple Watch for switching between AR and VR. The VR mode will fully immerse the wearer, but when AR mode is enabled the “content fades back and becomes surrounded by the user’s real environment.” This is reportedly one of the features Apple hopes will be a “highlight of the product.” To address overheating concerns, the Reality Pro headset will use an external battery that “rests in a user’s pocket and connects over a cable.” There will also be a cooling fan to further reduce the likelihood of the headset overheating. “The headset can last about two hours per battery pack,” Bloomberg reports. The battery pack is “roughly the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Maxes stacked on top of each other, or about six inches tall and more than half an inch thick.” Another tidbit from the report is that the headset will be able to serve as an external display for Mac. “Users will be able to see their Mac’s display in virtual reality but still control the computer with their trackpad or mouse and physical keyboard,” reports Bloomberg. Apple is also “developing technology that will let users type in midair with their hands.”

Additionally, FaceTime on the headset will “realistically render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality.”

A team of more than 1,000 people have been reportedly working on the first version of the device for the past seven years. It’s slated to cost “roughly $3,000” when it debuts sometime this spring.

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