Apple buys Canadian AI startup in push for generative AI

March 15, 2024
  • Apple bought a little-known Canadian AI startup called DarwinAI
  • DarwinAI’s solutions focus on computer vision and optimization of deep neural networks
  • Apple has been buying up small AI companies in a push for more AI features for iOS

Apple has quietly bought another AI company with its recent purchase of DarwinAI, a Canadian startup focused on computer vision and making AI systems faster and more efficient.

Apple has been slow out of the blocks compared to other big tech AI players and has been very secretive about any potential AI integrations it’s planning for its products.

During Apple’s Q1 earnings call in February, CEO Tim Cook said that the company was taking a slower, more deliberate approach to AI. It does seem like we’ll see some AI news from Cook soon though, because Cook said Apple will “break new ground” on GenAI this year.

DarwinAI may or may not be part of Apple’s plans to integrate AI into the upcoming iOS 18. We’ll have to see if the acquisition was about the IP or the opportunity to add human resources to its AI development team.

DarwinAI’s tech has been mostly implemented in computer vision for inspecting components in the manufacturing process. So it might even turn out that Apple wants to deploy DarwinAI’s IP in its supply chain to optimize the manufacturing of its electronic hardware.

Bloomberg first reported the acquisition, but Apple has yet to confirm that it bought the company. Even so, the darwinai.com domain no longer works and co-founder Alexander Wong’s LinkedIn profile now says he’s the Director of Machine Learning Research at Apple.

Apple is reportedly budgeting $1b a year to fund the development of its Gen AI products. There have already been reports of the company making internal use of its chatbot called Apple GPT and an LLM called Ajax. Will we see these rolled out in iOS18 or powering an upgraded Siri?

Apple doesn’t move at the same speed as Microsoft or Google, but when it releases a product it always moves the innovation needle in a dramatic way.

Expect more acquisitions and some big Apple AI news in the next few months.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.

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