Apple spurned idea of iPhone AI partnership with Meta months ago

Apple decided not to move forward with formal Meta discussions in part because it doesn’t see that company’s privacy practices as stringent enough, according to the people. — Bloomberg

Apple Inc rejected overtures by Meta Platforms Inc to integrate the social networking company’s AI chatbot into the iPhone months ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The two companies aren’t in discussions about using Meta’s Llama chatbot in an AI partnership and only held brief talks in March, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the situation is private. The dialogue about a partnership didn’t reach any formal stage, and Apple has no active plans to integrate Llama.

The preliminary talks occurred around the time Apple started hashing out deals to use OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Alphabet Inc’s Gemini in its products. The iPhone maker announced the ChatGPT agreement earlier this month and said it was expecting to offer Gemini in the future.

Apple decided not to move forward with formal Meta discussions in part because it doesn’t see that company’s privacy practices as stringent enough, according to the people. Apple has spent years criticising Meta’s technology, and integrating Llama into the iPhone would have been a stark about-face.

Apple also sees ChatGPT as a superior offering. Google, meanwhile, is already a partner for search in Apple’s Safari web browser, so a future Gemini deal would build on that relationship.

Spokespeople for Apple and Meta declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the two companies were in talks about an AI partnership.

Apple unveiled a suite of artificial intelligence features at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10. The new technology – called Apple Intelligence – includes homegrown tools for summarising notifications, transcribing voice memos and generating custom emoji.

But Apple’s chatbot technology isn’t as advanced as that of rivals, prompting it to seek out partners. The company also believes that customers will want the ability to switch between different chatbots depending on their needs, similar to how they might hop between Google and Microsoft Corp’s Bing for searches.

Apple continues to talk to AI startup Anthropic about eventually adding that company’s chatbot as an option, the people said. Apple Intelligence will begin rolling out later this year as part of operating systems for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.

The current deal with OpenAI doesn’t involve money swapping hands, but Apple will allow paying ChatGPT customers to access their subscriptions within the iOS operating system. That could generate revenue for OpenAI, a percentage of which could be headed to Apple in the form of App Store commissions.

Meta and Apple were on friendlier terms a decade ago, when the iPhone maker was integrating Facebook into iOS. But the companies have become fierce rivals in recent years, competing over AI, home devices and mixed-reality headsets. – Bloomberg

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