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Fluid AI Assistant is so much better than ChatGPT in one key way

Published Jul 2nd, 2024 12:55PM EDT
Smarter Siri is coming to
Image: Apple Inc.

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Since ChatGPT dropped in late 2022, we have made significant progress in deploying AI software on our devices. Generative AI powers new features in all sorts of apps. We’re also witnessing the early days of personal AI assistants that do more than just answer questions. They can control various app features on phones and computers.

But we’re not close to the AI experience I’m after. I can’t wait to have the same AI assistant run on all my devices, allowing me to control them via voice and text. That AI will then follow my instructions and help me do whatever I want with little or no effort on my part. Apple Intelligence might be the closest experience to that, but it’ll still be an early version of Apple AI and Siri when it debuts later this year.

For example, I want to be able to tell this virtual assistant to search for information, adjust my iPhone or Mac’s settings, take screenshots, download files, and send emails, all without leaving whatever app I’m using at the time. This AI would know everything about me, and that’s the key feature to taking multitasking to a whole new level.

To get there, I need to trust AI with my data. Put differently, powerful AI assistants will have to run locally on my devices and avoid sending data to servers.

While I’ll have to wait for any of those dreams to become a reality, there is one on-device AI assistant similar to ChatGPT that you can try right now. It’s called Fluid AI Assistant, and it runs entirely on your Mac. That alone makes it so much more appealing to me than ChatGPT, at least where privacy is concerned.

The developer of Fluid shared the macOS app on Reddit a few days ago. It’s available to download from its official site at this link. The app is free of charge while it’s in beta, but a premium version might be available later.

But you should know you’ll need to download a 9GB file, since it houses the entirety of Meta’s Llama 3 LLM. Better ensure you have a fast internet connection available. Also, Fluid AI will only work on a Mac with Apple Silicon on board. Anything older than M1 isn’t good enough for this AI. The product page says Macs with at least 16GB of RAM will handle Fluid better.

Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll get a ChatGPT-like experience on your Mac. I’ll note that the official ChatGPT app is also available to all Mac users. However, its voice abilities might not work at the time of this writing.

Back to Fluid, the developer says the AI assistant offers “unparalleled privacy,” as all the chats happen on Mac. No data reaches a third-party server, and the chatbot works offline. Furthermore, the Fluid AI chatbot is “security-checked by Apple,” and runs in a secure app sandbox without requiring admin access.

Fluid comes with support for voice control. You can invoke this ChatGPT alternative by pressing a shortcut that launches the AI no matter where you are on the Mac. Also, the app provides a history of your chats, so you can return to something you might have addressed before.

The short Fluid demo on the website shows the chatbot tackling a problem, as seen in the clip above. It sure looks like Fluid works as intended, at least for counting fruit.

Finally, the developer teases new features for Fluid’s future, including support for searching the web, the ability to memorize data about yourself like ChatGPT can, and context awareness (the AI will get access to your screen).

I haven’t had a chance to test Fluid yet, but I might in the future. If you’re interested in Fluid, you can check it out at this link. Before going forward with the app install, make sure you cover everything on the product page, including the FAQ section, so you know what to expect.

Fluid isn’t available from the Mac App Store yet, but that might change in the future, depending on feedback. While the app has been notarized by Apple, I’d prefer to download it from the Mac App Store.

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.