Details about how Apple will implement AI on iPhone inside iOS 18 becomes clearer – it has a new, ultra-efficient open source model called OpenELM

Apple is still being pretty tight-lipped about how AI will work inside its iPhones and iPads. There’s talk of deals with Google and OpenAI (God help us) as well as new tech – “OpenELM” (Open-source Efficient Language Models) – but no one is 100% sure how it’ll work.

We’ll know for sure during June, when Apple’s WWDC 2024 takes place. Until then, all bets are off. But in true Apple style, there have been concessions about how generative AI will work on iPhone and Apple’s wider world of products.

Apple Researchers Detail New, Efficient, and Open-Source AI Model

Based on what’s currently known about Apple’s plans for bringing AI to iPhone and its other products, here’s a quick breakdown of how it’ll potentially be implemented later this year:

  • OpenELM consists of small, efficient AI models designed for specific tasks.
  • Apple’s focus on efficiency suggests they are developing AI that can run directly on iPhones without relying on cloud services – this means less cost.
  • This approach aligns with Apple’s commitment to privacy and ensures faster performance without needing a fast internet connection.
  • Apple researchers have shown its AI models can edit photos through written messages and understand smartphone usage.

What is OpenELM?

The core of Apple’s AI tech stack is OpenELM which, ironically, given Apple’s usual approach to things, is an open-source model. You can even view the source code on GitHub.

OpenELM is designed to be more transparent and reproducible. This is important because it helps researchers to:

  • Continue their work more easily
  • Make sure the results can be trusted
  • Look into any unfairness or potential dangers in the data and model

OpenELM is special because it uses a clever way of organizing its parameters (the values that define the model) within each layer. This means it can be more accurate while using fewer parameters.

For instance, with about one billion parameters, OpenELM is 2.36% more accurate than another model called OLMo, even though it needs only half as much pre-training data.

Usually, when language models are released, only the model weights and code for using the model are provided. The data used for pre-training is often kept private.

However, with OpenELM, Apple is releasing everything, including:

  • The complete system for training and evaluating the model on publicly available datasets
  • Training logs
  • Multiple checkpoints (saved versions of the model during training)
  • Pre-training configurations (settings used during training)

Apple is also releasing code to convert the models so they can be used for inference (making predictions) and fine-tuning (additional training for specific tasks) on Apple devices using a library called MLX.

By releasing all of this, Apple hopes to help and strengthen the open research community and make it easier for researchers to build upon their work in the future.

This is the Complete Opposite of How OpenAI Works

OpenAI Releases “Free” ChatGPT Detection ToolPin

OpenAI’s privacy policy – how it uses your data and what it does with it – isn’t exactly comforting. In fact, it’s barely even legal in the EU. The company has scraped some 300 billion words from the web, including data about you, without your consent.

Add in the fact that it hallucinates, is prone to making things up, and you’re in a very bad spot, from a privacy perspective.

Imagine you’re a relatively well-known business person or person of interest and ChatGPT just makes something up about you. Who’s policing this? No one.

To be blunt, OpenAI offers zero methods for any of its users to check what data the company stores about them.

This means you have no idea what OpenAI knows about you or a direct method of getting it removed. Again, this is not legal in the EU.

But Apple is still apparently in talks with OpenAI to use ChatGPT on or inside iPhone – the details of its implementation are murky at best.

Apple’s Proprietary AI Model


The idea of using Gemini or ChatGPT in iOS or on any Apple product natively, given Apple’s penchant for doing everything in-house, doesn’t make sense, not least since it has been working on OpenELM.

Plus, AI is already present on plenty of Apple products: predictive text, transcriptions on Apple Watch – though this more machine learning than the generative AI that is now in vogue.

A proprietary AI model, powered by OpenELM, and exclusive to Apple products, would likely serve a similar function to OpenAI’s ChatGPT – helping with things like email composition, knowledge retrieval, and data analysis inside Apple’s suite of productivity apps.

Still, multiple sources claim the OpenAI deal is done, inked, and ready for implementation inside iOS 18. How this will look, how it will work, whether it will be used in conjunction with Siri or as a standalone app remains to be seen.

Given Apple’s focus on privacy and cost-saving (i.e., not running its AI in the cloud), one would assume that it would run its models natively on iPhone – this would ensure data privacy and tie in with the company’s approach to data privacy in general.

OpenELM is the path to doing this, to reducing the cost associated with running AI models at scale, so the only question now is this: if Apple has inked a deal with OpenAI, how is it going to make ChatGPT secure from a data perspective and, perhaps more importantly, where will this functionality live inside iOS and iPhone?

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