Apple in talks with China’s Baidu for iOS 18 generative AI partnership

Earlier this week, news broke that Apple was in talks with Google to license its Gemini models to be used to power some generative AI features in the upcoming version of iOS, iOS 18, for the iPhone. It was also said to have spoken with OpenAI about a possible deal.

Today, the Wall Street Journal says Apple also held talks with Baidu, to license its models. This would likely be intended to serve AI requests to Apple customers in China, as Chinese law requires models to be approved by its regulator before they are allowed to be used.

The Chinese regulator has approved more than 40 models so far, including the Ernie Bot from Baidu.

In contrast, Gemini does not have Chinese regulatory approval; the Great Firewall blocks access to Google Search and thus Google has essentially no presence in China whatsoever. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is not available in China either.

As of right now, Apple is not believed to have finalized deals with any providers for generative AI. The talks are in motion, and will be presumably agreed ahead of WWDC in June. iOS 18 is expected to include many AI-powered features, with some tasks handled on-device and others passed to backend models running in the cloud.

Assuming Apple follows its usual traditions, iOS 18 will be announced in June with a developer beta running over the summer. iOS 18 will then be available as a free download to all iPhone customers in September, and come preinstalled on the iPhone 16 lineup.

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