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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple acquired Canada-based company DarwinAI earlier this year to build out its AI team, reports Bloomberg. DarwinAI created AI technology for inspecting components during the manufacturing process, and it also had a focus on making smaller and more efficient AI systems.


DarwinAI's website and social media accounts have been taken offline following Apple's purchase. Dozens of former DarwinAI companies have now joined Apple's artificial intelligence division. AI researcher Alexander Wong, who helped build DarwinAI, is now a director in Apple's AI group.

Apple confirmed the acquisition with the statement that it typically gives when questioned about purchases. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time" but does not discuss its purpose or plans.

In an effort to catch up with Microsoft, Google, and others in the AI market, Apple is working hard to build artificial intelligence features for its next-generation iOS 18 and macOS 15 operating systems.

If Apple wants to be able to rival Microsoft's Bing, OpenAI's ChatGPT, and other generative AI offerings, it will need to integrate generative AI into a range of products. Apple is testing large language models, and AI features are said to be coming to Siri, Shortcuts, Messages, Apple Music, and more.

Apple is aiming to have AI features run on-device for privacy reasons, and DarwinAI's efforts to make smaller AI systems could be of use to further that endeavor.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised that Apple will "break new ground" in generative AI in 2024. "We believe it will unlock transformative opportunities for our users," said Cook.

Article Link: Apple Buys DarwinAI Ahead of Major Generative AI Updates Coming in iOS 18


macrumors regular
Apr 21, 2016
How about fixing HomePod Siri first then work on this stuff? The silly thing says "Sorry there is a problem with Apple Music" then in a second or so, it plays what I asked. :rolleyes:
I love Apple but I agree, Siri is the worst. I have 2 Homepods and my wife and I are constantly saying "Siri is an Idiot". Considering it was introduced with iPhone 4S, it should be far better than everyone else's but is the worst. I am grateful to know she isn't spying on me though like Google and Alexa


macrumors 68000
Aug 12, 2015
I still find it amazing that Apple, the world's most valuable company which hires the most brilliant engineers and strategists, missed the AI vector when it launched several years ago.

They need to catch up, which is already extremely hard considering their current position, and break new ground fast. Good luck!


macrumors G4
Nov 9, 2015
Silicon Valley, CA
Apple's plans for AI must encompass what DarwinAI was about as they added dozens of the DarwinAI staffers to its AI division.

DarwinAI’s initial focus is to disrupt the electronics manufacturing industry by improving the efficiency of Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) production through their ground-breaking technology. PCBs, which are ubiquitous and embedded in everything from microwaves to cameras, are notoriously difficult to visually inspect due different board sizes and complicated geometries. What’s more, qualified workers are hard to find and retain.
We’ve been working on foundational machine learning and deep learning technology for the past five years. A couple of years ago, our large industrial and aerospace clients were telling us about their supply chain challenges during the pandemic and reshoring sensitive electronics manufacturing work back to North America, specifically printed circuit boards (PCB). We thought that created an opportunity for us.
When we looked at PCB manufacturing, it became apparent that while the SMT placement workflow was highly automated, there was a need in automating back-end production and final assembly. This laborious part of the process was where EMS companies and OEMs were still employing manual inspection. These inspection tasks are tough to crack from a traditional machine vision perspective, and we wondered, “Can AI bring anything to bear on this problem?” We spent about a year developing a hardware and software solution which fits into the typical assembly line for PCB manufacturing. It also does post-assembly analysis, and what's really fascinating is how quickly an operator can program our product.
We often hear that AOIs are good at what they do but are laborious to program and maintain. With our system, there’s not a lot of manual work. You give the system a good (i.e., golden) board—or a couple of good boards if there's a union of different components—and our AI system creates a map of where components should be in less than a minute; away you go. You can tweak it after that, and it’s striking how quickly you can configure the product.
We brought our mini system to IPC APEX EXPO, and the response was fascinating. So many companies were intrigued by finally automating back-end production, and we're really excited about becoming a part of the community.


macrumors newbie
Mar 14, 2024
Alexander Wong, the founder of Darwin AI, was and might still be a professor at the University of Waterloo. I took a class with him on pattern recognition when I was a student there. He is a super bright individual. A great addition for Apple.
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Return Zero

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2013
"break new ground"... meaning, they will do the same thing as everyone else is doing, a couple years behind the market, but in a slick way that ties into their ecosystem nicely and keeps you enjoying the walled garden. I'm not complaining about this approach, but I will be very surprised if they actually break any new ground (other than some new privacy push around AI perhaps?).


macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2016
Hahaha. Sounds like the hare trying to catch on the turtle to me. We know how it ended.
Remember what happened to Siri when apple bought the comapny who made it?. Yeah, nothing. Siri furtue never came.
3rd party product integration into your own ecosystem is a multi year software proyect. No ammout of money solves that.
And finally, Darwin runs on the cloud, not on-device, right?. Why will it require iphone 16 to use it?.
Dead before birth.


macrumors member
Aug 9, 2023
Apple got caught off guard.
The executives were busy hanging out mingling with Hollywood stars and Fashion Celebrities. The geeks at Microsoft and Google are years ahead of Apple now when it comes to AI. Apple software looks primitive compared to them.
Also, Apple's software development pace is glacial.
Look at their software. Final Cut and iWork. When was the last time they added any meaningful features!


macrumors member
Jul 13, 2021
Apple has bought over 30 AI companies in the last two years more than Microsoft and Google. Apple is not only the dark horse in the AI race, but it has all the ingredients to win in it.
Buying a ton of AI companies really makes it feel like they were caught with their pants down last year. I don't think they thought AI would move this fast and felt they had more time. But you don't buy every company under the sun when you are playing from the front. It's a catch up move from a big company normally.

Also, Tim Cook has given several interviews about Apple's foray into AI in the last year and then Apple shows off Ferret. Apple loves to stay quiet until they have a product to show off at a keynote. But over the last year it seems like they are screaming from the roof tops: "Hey we have AI too!!".

All this to say I'm still really excited but integrated all these companies in a year and expecting to see it come to fruition by June is crazy. iOS18 will be ground breaking but I expect the real impacts not to come until 19 and 20.
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