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OpenAI launches official ChatGPT app: Ad-free and cross-device syncing

Posted:May 19, 2023 15:00 Category: AI , Americas , Europe , Posted by Matthew Calleja

ChatGPT is now available as a smartphone app, delivering both good and bad news for users and clone apps seeking to capitalise on the technology.

ChatGPT app debuts on IOS

The app, free of charge, made its debut on iPhones and iPads in the United States on Thursday and will subsequently extend its reach to Android devices. Notably, unlike its desktop web counterpart, the mobile version specifically designed for Apple’s iOS operating system allows users to engage with the chatbot through voice commands.

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, assures users that the app will remain ad-free while offering the convenience of syncing chat history across multiple devices. In an official blog post, OpenAI announced the app’s launch, stating that it will initially roll out in the United States and gradually expand to other countries in the following weeks. The App Store describes it as the “official app” from OpenAI.

Despite the considerable anticipation and concern generated by OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT over five months ago, with its remarkable ability to generate human-like essays, poems, form letters, and conversational responses, the San Francisco startup seemed in no rush to make it available on smartphones, the primary platform for internet access by most individuals.

During a recent hearing regarding the regulation of AI systems, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman addressed U.S. senators, sharing insights about the AI systems developed by his company. Altman informed Congress that OpenAI does not prioritise maximising user engagement. He explained that this approach is due to the fact that OpenAI does not operate on an advertising-based business model. Additionally, Altman highlighted the high costs associated with training and operating their AI models on graphics processing units (GPUs).

We’re not trying to get people to use it more and more. In fact, we’re so short on GPUs, the less people use our products, the better. – Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO.

The newly launched app introduces the option to access a premium version of ChatGPT, offering additional features for users. In addition to subscriptions, OpenAI generates revenue by partnering with developers and corporations who integrate its AI models into their own applications and products.

Microsoft, OpenAI’s primary partner, has made substantial investments in the startup and incorporated ChatGPT-like technology into its own offerings, including a chatbot featured on its search engine, Bing.

Competing with Bing and Bard

Now, the ChatGPT app enters into competition with Bing’s existing chatbot on iPhones, potentially challenging Google’s mobile version of its rival chatbot, Bard. OpenAI’s chatbot technology can also be found in various other applications, such as Snapchat’s “My AI” feature.

The delayed release of the official app inadvertently contributed to the emergence of clones based on similar technology. Sophos, a security firm, recently labelled some of these clones as “fleeceware” due to their deceptive tactics, luring unsuspecting users into enrolling in free trials that later convert into recurring subscriptions, or employing intrusive advertising techniques.

Simon Migliano, a privacy researcher, explained that although the official ChatGPT app may eventually attract users away from similar-sounding apps, it could take some time as many of these apps were deliberately given misleading names to confuse users into thinking they already have the official app. Migliano, who serves as the head of research at Top10VPN.com, further noted that these apps were “hyper-optimised” to rank prominently in Apple’s App Store search results.

Migliano warned, “For many of those who have already downloaded a clone, it’s likely they will simply stick with the ChatGPT apps they already have and continue to have their personal data harvested and sold.”

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