Following the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) has made a splash in 2023, with generative AI (the ability of AI to create content) features and services appearing everywhere. Apple, however, has barely made a sound – all we’ve heard from Apple so far are assurances from CEO Tim Cook that Apple is working on… something.
We’re finally seeing proof that Apple is actually working on something, or maybe several things. The latest comes from a report from BuyAiDomains.com which states that Apple has purchased the web domain “iwork.ai”, which can be confirmed by checking registration records in the Whois database of domain names. domain. This leads BuyAiDomainscom to conclude that iWork applications (Keynote, Numbers and Pages) are “on the verge of a revolutionary transformation.” That could be the case, or Apple might 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 that the MGIE can perform, and Apple makes the code, data, and pre-trained models available for download on GitHub.
Given the timing of the iwork.ai acquisition and MGIE release, it’s easy to conclude that Keynote, Numbers, and Pages could have MGIE-based functionality, to accompany other generative AI functions. The iWork suite of apps has been available for nearly 20 years, and Apple hasn’t done much to change them recently, dampening expectations for future releases. It would be nice if Apple paid more attention to iWork, and these steps could be the start of a change in the right direction. iWork is a relatively lightweight alternative to Microsoft Office, but a big AI push could fundamentally change how Apple markets the suite, which comes free with new Apple devices.
With Apple’s software focus being its operating systems, MGIE and other generative AI features could play an important role in operating system updates. An October report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said generative AI would play a significant role in iOS 18, the next generation of the iPhone operating system. This, along with a new version of Siri, will debut at WWDC in June. However, other reports claim that Apple is targeting 2025 for the biggest AI features, so even with a WWDC announcement, we could be waiting a while.