Apple Fell Behind in the AI Race but is Planning to Catch Up


Apple fell behind in the AI race, once a pioneer in AI with its revolutionary Siri voice assistant, finds itself lagging in the current AI arms race. As the tech giant prepares to unveil significant AI upgrades at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, it’s clear that Apple is determined to reclaim its position in the AI domain, competing against industry leaders like Microsoft and Google.

Siri’s Promising Start and Missed Opportunities

In the early 2010s, Apple showcased a revamped Siri, demonstrating the powerful capabilities of an AI voice assistant that could run on an iPhone without needing an internet connection. Code-named Project Blackbird, this version of Siri was designed to be faster, more conversational, and capable of integrating with third-party apps. However, an internal project known as Siri X, which involved more modest upgrades, won out before the 10-year anniversary of Siri’s launch. This decision marked a missed opportunity for Apple to further advance its AI capabilities.

Current State and Upcoming Announcements

Next week, Apple is set to join the AI arms race at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The company plans to announce an array of generative AI upgrades to its software products, including Siri. These enhancements will support tasks such as message writing, photo editing, and text summarization. Although Apple isn’t expected to catch up with leading AI innovators immediately, these new features aim to impress users while maximizing privacy—a key concern in fully realizing the potential of AI assistants.

Challenges and Strategic Shifts

Apple’s cautious approach and characteristic secrecy, along with its meticulous device upgrades, have hindered its early AI efforts. This has placed Apple in the unusual position of needing to take more significant risks. The company is considering partnerships with major AI developers, including OpenAI, Google, and Cohere, to bolster its AI capabilities. Such collaborations could augment Siri or even introduce third-party AI providers to power or replace Siri.

Internal Dynamics and Resource Limitations

Apple’s struggle to advance Siri led to the hiring of John Giannandrea, a top Google engineering executive, in 2018. Giannandrea aimed to centralize Apple’s fragmented AI efforts and improve Siri. However, his team faced challenges integrating with Apple’s existing structure, where rigorous deadlines clashed with the more flexible timelines typical at Google. Additionally, Apple’s AI team often lacked access to the necessary computing resources, relying on external cloud services for training AI models. This further limited their ability to compete with rivals.

The ChatGPT Effect and Renewed Focus

The launch of ChatGPT in late 2022 marked a turning point. Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, became an advocate for generative AI after experimenting with Microsoft’s GitHub AI coding tool, Copilot. This shift in perspective led to a renewed focus on integrating generative AI into Apple’s products. Employees across Federighi’s organization were tasked with incorporating AI into their projects, and resources were reallocated to support these initiatives.

Building Internal AI and Seeking Partnerships

Apple has intensified its efforts to build its own generative AI models while exploring potential external partnerships for advanced AI capabilities. Meetings with Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, indicate Apple’s openness to collaboration. As Apple prepares to unveil new AI-powered features this year, including updates to Siri, the company is poised for a significant AI-driven transformation.

A Glimpse into Siri’s Future

Apple Fell Behind in the AI Race

Apple’s dedication to AI innovation suggests a promising future for Siri. As the company integrates thoughtful AI features into its devices, Siri could experience a renaissance. Dag Kittlaus, co-founder of the Siri startup acquired by Apple, expressed optimism about Siri’s future. He believes that with Apple’s renewed focus on AI, Siri is poised to become a leading AI assistant once again.


Apple’s journey in the AI landscape has been marked by early successes, missed opportunities, and recent challenges. However, with strategic AI upgrades, potential partnerships, and a renewed focus on innovation, Apple is gearing up to re-enter the AI arms race. As the company unveils its latest advancements at the Worldwide Developers Conference, the tech world will be watching to see how Apple leverages AI to enhance its products and reclaim its position as a leader in the AI domain.

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