Three Ex-Apple Employees Are Trying to Bring Generative AI to the Desktop

A photo shows a MacBook illuminated by purple lighting.

Three former Apple employees have launched a startup aimed at bringing generative artificial intelligence to desktops.

The new company, Software Applications Incorporated, may not sound exciting, but it could bring some new possibilities to Mac computers. And at the helm are three heavily-credentialed former Apple employees. CEO Ari Weinstein sold his iOS app Workflow to the tech giant in 2017, which became Shortcuts, a pretty powerful native tool available across Apple devices that that lets users set automations, rules, and further customize settings and use. It also let people make their phone layouts look prettier, which merely highlights how versatile Workflow-turned-Shortcuts really is.

Weinstein is joined by Workflow co-founder Conrad Kramer and Kim Beverett. Beverett worked at Apple for 10 years focusing on Safari, WebKit, Privacy, Messages, Mail, Phone, FaceTime, and SharePlay and presented at the company’s WWDC conference twice, according to her LinkedIn profile.

While the company is still in the prototyping stage, the three former Apple employees at its head revealed to The Verge that the product could “[push] operating systems forward.” The goal is to use generative AI models to make desktops more useful, allowing them to do more and do these tasks with fewer steps. Really, it sounds quite a bit like bringing an AI-powered souped-up version of Shortcuts to computers.

“If you turned on an Apple II or an Atari, you’d get this basic console where you could type in basic code as a user and program the computer to do whatever you wanted,” Weinstein told The Verge. “Nowadays, it’s sort of the exact opposite. Everybody spends time in very optimized operating systems with pieces of software that are designed to be extremely easy to use but are not flexible.”

He also noted to the outlet that “the average interaction on a desktop computer is measured in minutes or hours,” concluding there is an opportunity to save people time in this area. However, one could point out that the types of use cases on each device vary, likely leading to the difference in time spent. Still, considering Weistein’s work on Shortcuts, he, Kramer, and Beverett could actually break through the AI app noise and actually bring something innovative to desktops.

So far, Software Applications has raised $6.5 million in funding from the likes of OpenAI’s recently reinstated CEO Sam Altman among other Silicon Valley bigwigs, according to The Verge. Weinstein added that the company hopes to add 10 employees in the coming year as well.

“We started this company because we’re so excited about what’s happening in generative AI right now,” Weinstein told The Verge, “because we were excited to work together again, and because we love the open-ended, creative environment of a startup.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.