Apple AI Acquisition

Apple Acquires DarwinAI Ahead of 2024 Generative AI Plans

Apple has purchased Canadian AI startup DarwinAI for an undisclosed sum, as first reported by Bloomberg. The acquisition marks another sign that the tech giant is preparing for a major expansion into generative AI across its products and services this year.

Apple AI Acquisitions

Founded out of the University of Waterloo, DarwinAI specialized in visual inspection AI for manufacturing as well as techniques to optimize AI models to run efficiently on-device rather than in the cloud. DarwinAI’s technology and dozens of employees have since joined Apple’s AI division, according to LinkedIn. This includes co-founder Alexander Wong, who is now a director of Apple’s AI group. DarwinAI’s expertise in compact AI models could aid Apple’s efforts to integrate generative AI capabilities into its ecosystems of mobile devices, computers, and wearables. The iPhone maker prioritizes on-device AI processing over cloud connectivity for privacy and performance reasons.

Apple has not officially confirmed the deal yet, so no terms have been disclosed. DarwinAI had raised over $15 million in prior funding rounds from investors as of 2022. Apple has historically lagged behind tech giants like Google and Microsoft in releasing public-facing generative AI products despite acquiring numerous AI startups over the past decade. However, the DarwinAI acquisition signals Apple to be staffing up AI talent to catch the latest wave. The quiet absorption of the AI startup represents another investment Apple has made in AI for its future plans. Apple has teased upcoming generative AI-powered features in iOS 18 software as well as an AI coding assistant to come in an Xcode developer tool.

AI Apples

There have been other signs of Apple’s generative AI plans, including the shutdown of the San Diego Data Operations Annotations group to consolidate its work with Apple’s AI group in Texas. San Diego’s office focuses on teaching Siri to understand and communicate in Hebrew, English, and multiple dialects of Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and French. Notably, this was the team that had previously faced controversy over privacy concerns related to contracting workers who were listening to Siri recordings. Employees later replaced contractors, but DarwinAI’s tech may help fend off future complaints.


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