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Innovation

Apple's new AI model edits photos according to text prompts from users

The company is also in the news for acquiring the most AI startups among other tech giants in 2023.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
A photo of an MGIE demo

A photo of an MGIE demo on Hugging Face. 

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Apple just introduced an open-source AI model that executes text-based image editing commands. The model, named MLLM-Guided Image Editing (MGIE) was developed in collaboration with the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

MGIE can perform various image editing tasks, like cropping, resizing, and rotating; as well as adjustments to brightness, color balance, and contrast -- all by following text prompts from users. The ins and outs of MGIE's capabilities and performance were outlined in a conference paper published this week. 

Also: Microsoft upgrades Copilot AI with inline image editing and better suggested prompts

The report discusses how MGIE shows significant improvements in image editing performance across different metrics and maintains competitive inference efficiency. The technology was used to perform Photoshop-style modifications, photo optimization, and local editing. 

The paper explained MGIE demonstrated superiority over existing techniques, suggesting a promising direction for future image editing tools that would be more accessible and intuitive to use. MGIE isn't widely available to the public as an official development from Apple, but users can access it through GitHub for technical exploration or try its web demo on Hugging Face

MGIE

A screenshot of another MGIE demo on Hugging Face.

Screenshot: Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The development of MGIE could be an effort to catch up to what Microsoft, Google, and Meta have done in the past two years. Though these other tech giants have released refined AI-powered chatbots and even some image generators, Apple's absence in the generative AI market has been intriguing. 

Also: 3 AI features iOS 18 needs to catch up with Android

The company appears to be working on catching up: In 2023 alone, Apple acquired as many as 32 AI startups, many more than Google's 21 acquisitions, Meta's 18, and Microsoft's 17. Apple keeps these acquisitions and generative AI advancements under wraps, leaving us to only be able to speculate as to when the company will release them publicly and in which devices and platforms they will be included.

Apple is known for acquiring smaller companies to take over their technology and talent, and Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said in 2021 that the company acquires a startup every three to four weeks, according to the BBC, but it reportedly slowed its pace in 2022 and only acquired two companies that year. 

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