Apple Acquires Canadian AI Startup DarwinAI as It Gears Up for Big AI Push

Apple Acquires Canadian AI Startup DarwinAI as It Gears Up for Big AI Push

Apple has quietly acquired Canadian AI startup DarwinAI earlier this year, adding to its growing list of AI acquisitions. While the deal has not been officially announced, dozens of DarwinAI's employees have joined Apple's artificial intelligence division, according to people familiar with the matter.

DarwinAI, based in Waterloo, Ontario, has developed AI technology for visually inspecting components during the manufacturing process, serving customers across various industries. One of its core technologies focuses on making AI systems smaller and faster, which aligns with Apple's emphasis on running AI on devices rather than entirely in the cloud.

Multiple employees of Darwin have updated their profiles to indicate they now work at Apple. Notably, Alexander Wong, a co-founder of DarwinAI and an AI researcher at the University of Waterloo, has joined Apple as a director in its AI group as part of the acquisition.

The acquisition comes at a crucial time for Apple, as the company prepares for a significant AI push in 2024. CEO Tim Cook has promised that Apple will "break new ground" in AI this year, with an announcement expected as early as the company's worldwide developers conference in June. Despite having acquired more AI companies than most of its competitors over the past decade, Apple has fallen behind in the generative AI market, with tech giants like Google and Microsoft stealing the spotlight with new features.

Apple is set to introduce AI-powered features in its upcoming iOS 18 software, utilizing generative AI technology similar to that behind ChatGPT and other groundbreaking tools. The company has also begun integrating generative AI into its internal operations, using the technology to assist with customer service requests. Additionally, Apple is working on new features for auto-creating presentations, completing blocks of text, and a new version of its Xcode programming software that uses AI to help developers write code.

DarwinAI had raised more than $15 million as of 2022, according to the Canadian startup community Communitech, with investments from venture capital firms such as Honeywell Ventures and Inovia Capital. The startup has also collaborated with prominent companies like Lockheed Martin Corp. and Intel Corp.

Chris McKay is the founder and chief editor of Maginative. His thought leadership in AI literacy and strategic AI adoption has been recognized by top academic institutions, media, and global brands.

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