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3 reasons why ChatGPT should be part of iOS 18 on the iPhone

Published May 13th, 2024 12:39PM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro Max Screen
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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A report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said a few days ago that Apple and OpenAI are once again negotiating a deal to integrate ChatGPT with the iPhone in iOS 18. Late on Friday, Bloomberg followed up on the report, providing more details about the purported deal. Apparently, Apple and OpenAI are getting close to coming to terms.

Nothing is confirmed at this time. The reports follow similar stories that painted Google’s Gemini as a contender for cloud IA features on the iPhone.

ChatGPT is already available on the iPhone. It was among the first AI apps that came to iOS. The same goes for Gemini, which is baked into the main Google app on iOS. However, integrating ChatGPT or Gemini into iOS 18 would allow Apple to offer much more complex generative AI features.

After Mark Gurman and Julia Love’s new report, which followed a big ChatGPT privacy upgrade, I now have three reasons to believe ChatGPT is the better option.

Privacy first

This is the key component for any cloud-based AI features coming to iOS 18 via a third party. Whether it’s ChatGPT or Gemini in the West or Baidu in China, these providers must meet Apple’s privacy requirements.

Reports say that many AI features coming to iOS 18 will be run on the device, which is a big deal when it comes to privacy. The iPhone, iPad, or Mac processing AI locally means Apple won’t have to process that data on its servers.

Separate reports also say that Apple might use its own large language models for iOS 18 AI features, but it won’t have its own chatbot ready for iOS 18’s debut at WWDC in June. That’s where ChatGPT or Gemini will come into play.

OpenAI's official ChatGPT app for iPhone.
OpenAI’s official ChatGPT app for iPhone. Image source: OpenAI

Reacting to Gurman’s first report about Apple’s talks to OpenAI, I highlighted privacy as a big reason to favor ChatGPT over Gemini:

I would prefer [ChatGPT] because that’s what I use the most when it comes to chatbots. ChatGPT isn’t perfect, but I choose it over rivals for now. I’m a Plus subscriber, and I’ve taken advantage of OpenAI’s ChatGPT privacy features to prevent my data from training the AI. I would also expect this to be possible if Apple chose OpenAI over Google for chatbot duties in iOS 18.

Soon after that report, OpenAI made a big change to its ChatGPT privacy policy. Users no longer have to choose between keeping their chat history and protecting their data. You can opt out of training ChatGPT with your chats and retain your history.

I signaled this big privacy upgrade a few days ago. It now makes even more sense if the Apple-OpenAI deal is imminent. The ability to opt out of ChatGPT training without losing chat history would probably be a key requirement from Apple. It’s what I’d expect to happen in iOS 18 with chats with any AI model, whether it’s ChatGPT or something different.

Regulators might not like Gemini in iOS 18

Google is one of Apple’s biggest rivals, but it’s also one of its most important partners. The company paid the iPhone maker around $20 billion last year alone to be the default search engine in iOS. The lucrative deal should continue unless regulators do something about it. The Google Search fee came up during testimony in the government’s big antitrust case against Google.

Having Gemini as the default chatbot on the iPhone would be a big win for Google. But it could also turn out to be somewhat of an issue for both Apple and Google if regulators continue going after the two, especially Google.

Apple might be better served by building the ChatGPT chatbot into iOS 18, rather than Gemini. That being said, I can see a world where certain entities, like the European Union, might force Apple to let users choose the default AI chatbot on the iPhone at some point down the road.

Google Gemini can power the Google Assistant app on Android.
Google Gemini can power the Google Assistant app on Android. Image source: Google

ChatGPT is still the coolest

This brings me to my final point, the ChatGPT coolness factor. ChatGPT was the first generative AI chatbot to impact the tech world — so much so that it forced every big tech company to pivot to AI.

ChatGPT gets so much attention, especially in the early months, reaching 100 million users faster than any app ever. It’s been the leader of the pack as everyone else, including Apple, continues to play catchup.

ChatGPT is still perceived as the top generative AI product out there, and that should continue for some time to come.

If Apple chose Google to be the default search on iPhone because it’s the best, it could follow the same logic by going with ChatGPT for chatbot features in iOS 18. At least, until its own chatbot catches up to ChatGPT and can replace it.

Of course, all of this is speculation. We’ll learn everything about Apple’s genAI plans for the iPhone at WWDC 2024 next month. It’ll be interesting to see whether Apple announces a partnership with a chatbot provider at the show, or if it’ll happen in September when the final version of iOS 18 is released to the public.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.