After ChatGPT debuted in November of 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) made a big splash in 2023, with generative AI (the ability of AI to create content) functions and services popping up all over the place. Apple, however, has barely made a peep–the most we’ve heard from Apple so far are reassurances from CEO Tim Cook that Apple is working on …something.
We’re finally seeing evidence that Apple really is working on something–or possibly a few things. The latest comes from a report by BuyAiDomains.com that says that Apple has purchased the “iwork.ai” web domain, which can be confirmed by checking the registration records in the Whois database of domain names. This leads BuyAiDomainscom to conclude that the iWork apps (Keynote, Numbers, and Pages) are “on the brink of a revolutionary transformation.” That could be the case, or Apple may just want to make sure no one else claims it.
However, there is evidence that Apple may have big changes in store for iWork. The iwork.ai report comes after Apple last week released an open-source AI model called MLLM-Guided Image Editing, or MGIE for short. Created in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara, the model can edit images based on a user’s written commands. A conference paper explains the Photoshop-like functions the MGIE can perform, and Apple has the code, data, and pre-trained models available for download on GitHub.
Considering the timing of the iwork.ai acquisition and the MGIE release, it’s easy to conclude that Keynote, Numbers, and Pages could have MGIE-based features, to go along with other generative AI functions. The iWork suite of apps has been available for nearly 20 years and Apple hasn’t done much recently to change them, which tempers expectations for future versions. It’d be nice if Apple paid closer attention to iWork, and these moves could be the start of a change in the right direction. iWork is a relatively lightweight alternative to Microsoft Office, but a strong AI push could fundamentally change how Apple markets the suite, which comes free with new Apple devices.
Apple’s software priority is its operating systems, so MGIE and other generative AI features could play a big role in the OS updates. An October report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman stated that generative AI will play a big role in iOS 18, the next generation of the iPhone operating system. This, along with a new version of Siri, will make its debut at WWDC in June. However, other reports claim Apple is targeting 2025 for the biggest AI features, so even with a WWDC announcement, we might be waiting a while.