Apple poaches Google AI staff, creates ‘secretive’ laboratory: Report

Apple has reportedly been snatching up experts from Google in an effort to build out its own team of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning experts. 

According to a report from the Financial Times (FT) on April 30, Apple has been luring “dozens” of these experts in a “hiring spree” over the past year, specifically from Google. The report said that Apple has attracted approximately 36 AI specialists from Google since 2018.

In addition to trying to form top teams of AI experts, Apple has also acquired two local AI start-ups in Zurich, Switzerland, which led it to build a “secretive” laboratory in the area which it calls “Vision Lab.”

The FT report says that its Zurich employees have been key in Apple’s research of high-level AI technologies that power rival services like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, residents have said that the laboratory is inconspicuous, and some didn’t even realize Apple was active in the area. 

This comes as Apple begins to be more aggressive in its approach to its AI development. Apple has been relatively silent over the last year as its Big Tech competitors such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and OpenAI have all been racing to invest in and build powerful large language models (LLMs).

Related: Apple Pay is the benchmark as crypto mobile payments push for adoption

Apple has seen its share slip since the start of the year. In contrast, the Q2 earnings reports from Microsoft and Google revealed significant revenue and profit increases driven by their investments and advancements in AI technologies.

However, on April 24, Apple released its own Open-source Efficient Language Models (OpenELM), a series of four tiny language models on the Hugging Face library. The models are intended for text-related tasks such as email writing. 

According to industry insiders, Apple will focus on incorporating generative AI into its mobile devices. This means it would make it so that AI chatbots and apps could run via the built-in hardware of the iPhone rather than being powered by data centers and their respective cloud services.

Back in February 2024, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, confirmed that generative AI software features will come to iOS and other Apple platforms later in the year.

On April 27, it was reported that Apple and OpenAI are involved in deep discussions over the integration of generative AI technologies on iOS.Apple. There were also mentions of similar conversations with Google.

While nothing has been set in stone, these developments point towards Apple’s pivot towards AI.

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