Rumored Apple and Meta collaboration might make the iPhone 16 a better AI phone

Apple may be augmenting its new Apple Intelligence Artificial Intelligence (AI) features with models built by Meta, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The two tech giants are supposedly discussing incorporating Meta's generative AI services into iOS 18 and the next generation of iPhone models. 

The WSJ report cites conversations Apple has begun with most of the big names in AI, including Google (Gemini), Anthropic (Claude), and OpenAI (ChatGPT). Plans for Apple Intelligence to include free ChatGPT access and GPT-4o integration were mentioned among the deluge of Apple Intelligence news at WWDC this year. That is clearly a non-exclusive arrangement if a Meta collaboration is underway. 

Apple's interest in Meta's Llama 2 and Llama 3 large language models makes sense on both ends of any deal. Meta would get to bring its AI to the massive global network of iPhone users, while Apple could cite Meta's AI features as another selling point for the iPhone. And while both Meta and Apple have some deals with OpenAI and its main funder, Microsoft, an alliance between the two might help build a competitive alternative even as OpenAI and ChatGPT may be what people first point to as generative AI. 

Mutually beneficial

For Apple as a hardware platform, it's especially good to widen the available AI model choices. That way, Apple can pitch iPhones as an AI hub, switching among models depending on what people want the AI to do. Apple explicitly pointed toward that goal at WWDC this year when announcing the deal with OpenAI to provide ChatGPT on Apple products.

“We wanted to start with the best, and we think ChatGPT from OpenAI and their new 4o model represents the best choice for our users today,” Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi explained at the event. “We think ultimately, people are going to have a preference perhaps for certain models that they want to use – maybe one that great’s for creative writing, or one they prefer for coding, and so we want to enable users ultimately to bring the model of their choice and we’re going to look forward to doing integrations with models, like Google Gemini for instance, in the future.”

Any speculation on how Apple Intelligence will change thanks to Meta is premature, but the fact it's happening at all might surprise some. Meta's advertising income took a beating after Apple changed its policies to give users more control over their data in 2021. Requiring user permission before tracking data across other apps and websites cost Meta billions of dollars and prompted Meta to release a method for advertisers to avoid Apple's service fee for boosting ad posts. The stakes of those business battles are apparently no match for Apple and Meta's anticipated AI earnings, and both now seem happy to let bygones be bygones. 

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Meta is building WhatsApp into its workplace collaboration platform

Meta (née Facebook) has announced it will soon integrate messaging service WhatsApp into its collaboration platform, Workplace from Meta.

The company says the integration is designed to make it easier for companies to reach their employees, especially frontline workers whose jobs involve dealing with customers out in the field. 

The new feature is designed to allow organizations to deliver important messages to their staff directly over WhatsApp, thereby avoiding delays inherent to services like email that are checked less frequently by frontline workers.

The WhatsApp integration will supposedly roll out at some point in 2022, but Meta has not offered a specific launch date (the company is calling this a “pre-announcement”).

WhatsApp comes to Workplace from Meta

The new WhatsApp integration was informed at least in part by research conducted by Workplace from Meta, which shows that many frontline workers are dissatisfied by the level of communication they receive from their organization.

Based on a survey of 7,000 frontline workers and 1,300 executives, the report states that only 54% feel connected to their company headquarters, while a similar proportion complain that in-office employees receive better perks and benefits.

As a result, roughly half (47%) of frontline workers say they are planning to find a new role this year, and an even larger percentage (49%) will attempt to move out of the frontline workforce entirely.

A similar report from Microsoft recently came to the same conclusion. The company found that frontline workers are too often overlooked when it comes to software deployment, with more than half saying they did not feel valued by their employer.

According to Meta, the new WhatsApp integration will help frontline workers establish a tighter relationship with their leadership team, which should in turn reduce the staff turnover rate and boost productivity.

“We’re at a critical juncture of the employer-frontline relationship and the Great Frontline Resignation is a very real threat,” said Christine Trodella, Global Director at Workplace from Meta.

“While it’s clear from this year’s report that business leaders recognize the fundamental role frontline workers play, actions speak louder than words. Now is the time for leadership to listen, learn and more importantly, take action to build a workforce that is inclusive of the workers who brought them through the pandemic.”

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