In a move shrouded in secrecy, tech giant Apple has reportedly acquired Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) startup DarwinAI, according to sources familiar with the deal. The acquisition, which likely occurred earlier in 2024, has yet to be officially acknowledged by either company.

This strategic acquisition bolsters Apple’s position in the ever-evolving AI landscape. DarwinAI’s expertise lies in two key areas:

  • Efficient AI Systems: The company’s technology focuses on creating smaller and faster AI models, crucial for on-device applications. This aligns perfectly with Apple’s philosophy of prioritizing user privacy and minimizing reliance on cloud-based processing.
  • Revolutionizing Manufacturing: DarwinAI’s AI systems have practical applications in visual quality inspection within manufacturing processes. This technology could potentially streamline Apple’s own production lines and potentially find its way into future smart factory solutions.

The deal also brings valuable talent to Apple’s AI team. Dozens of DarwinAI employees, including a key figure behind their explainable AI platform, have reportedly joined Apple’s ranks.

This acquisition coincides with rumors surrounding Apple’s upcoming iOS 18 update.  Industry insiders anticipate a significant push towards on-device AI features, potentially including an enhanced Siri and intelligent functionalities within core Apple applications like Messages, iWork, and Apple Music.

While Apple remains tight-lipped, the acquisition of DarwinAI paints a clear picture. The company is actively seeking to become a major player in the on-device AI revolution.

Here are some lingering questions:

  • How will Apple integrate DarwinAI’s technology into its existing product line?
  • Will the focus be solely on internal improvements or will there be broader implications for the future of Apple devices?

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has promised to “break new ground” in AI this year. With the DarwinAI acquisition under wraps, all eyes are now set on Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, where the company is expected to unveil its latest innovations. The event might just shed light on how Apple plans to leverage this strategic acquisition and propel its AI capabilities forward.