Since ChatGPT debuted in November, hundreds of millions of people have experimented with the online chatbot, which can answer questions, write poetry, draft emails and riff on almost any topic from within a web browser.
On Thursday, OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab behind ChatGPT, unveiled a new version of the chatbot for the iPhone, hoping to build on its massive popularity.
Unlike the browser-based version of ChatGPT, the smartphone app responds to voice commands and works a bit like Apple’s Siri digital assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. The app does not respond by voice, but generates responses in text.
In a blog post, OpenAI said the app was part of its efforts to transform its AI research into “useful tools that empower people while continuously making them more accessible.” It declined to comment further.
By offering its flagship technology to billions of iPhone users, OpenAI strengthens its position among the giants of the technology industry. ChatGPT is the most prominent example of what is called generative AI, technology that can generate text, images and other media based on short prompts. Google, Microsoft and various startups have released similar bots and are beginning to roll such technology into a wide range of online services.
The result of more than ten years of research at companies like Google and OpenAI, these chatbots are ready to do everything from internet search engines like Google Search and Bing to email programs like Gmail and Outlook.
They can generate digital text that can be used in almost any context, including for students to write term papers and business people to create email messages and other marketing materials.
The technology is not perfect. Because these chatbots learn by analyzing vast amounts of digital text collected from all over the Internet, they cannot distinguish fact from fiction. And the computer code they generate is often flawed.
Today, technology tends to supplement human workers rather than directly replace their skills.
OpenAI isn’t the first to introduce technology that lets people use ChatGPT with voice; some small companies and independent developers have already done so. Microsoft also offers a version of its Bing chatbot that responds to voice commands.
The new iPhone app is free. Subscribers to ChatGPT Plus — available for $20 a month — can use a more powerful version of the chatbot based on a technology called GPT-4.
OpenAI began rolling out the app in the US on Thursday and will expand to other countries in the coming weeks. A version of the app for Android phones is also on the way.