Mac users are already making plenty of use of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) tools in their apps, and a compilation from Setapp confirms the extent to which ChatGPT has already invaded Apple’s platform.
Ukraine software developer MacPaw’s app subscription service, Setapp, recently published its third annual Mac Apps Report. It confirms that collaborative and productivity apps dominate Mac app downloads, and claimed 70% of users surveyed already have Macs equipped with Apple Silicon processors.
But what makes it most interesting is that the report also hints at the extent to which AI-augmented apps are catching on with Mac users.
What is the state of AI on the Mac?
The report shares a small selection of frequently used AI-augmented Mac applications. The selection is interesting as it suggests how such augmentations can extend the capabilities of apps within defined domains. The data also seemed to reflect the impact these apps are already having across the Mac community, with 42% of the sample group saying they use AI apps every day.
Which apps are being used?
The survey confirms growing adoption of powerful cross-functional collaboration solution Asana. (The selection does not include Adobe’s AI-augmented creative apps, though this may reflect the nature of the sample group.)
But it’s inarguable that OpenAI’s ChatGPT is having an impact on the Mac platform. Several of the widely-deployed apps mentioned in Setapp’s selection make use of that particular large language model (LLM) tool, including Microsoft Bing, and applications such as TypingMind, Elephas, MacGPT, and MacWhisper.
Beyond OpenAI, Google’s conversational AI tool Bard is also seeing wide use, according to Setapp.
There is AI outside ChatGPT
Beyond the ChatGPT channels, the report identifies a handful of solutions Mac users are making extensive use of that rely on alternative AI engines.
- Spark, a powerful email application with features Apple Mail still dreams of.
- Notion, a connected workspace solution that is popular as a more integrated Slack alternative.
- Grammarly, pretty much the standard in augmented writing.
- Craft, a powerful document creation, collaboration, and idea development tool. This won an App Store award in 2021.
- Luminar Neo, Skylum’s augmented imaging tool.
- Raycast, a Mac productivity tool that streamlines workflows and increases productivity with a range of powerful features, add-ons, and integrations.
What applications do Mac users use most?
Beyond AI, the report claimed the average Mac user has 51 installed applications, with 15 used every day. Those daily drives include the obvious, such as browsers, Microsoft 365, and Adobe’s creative apps.
They also include industry standard applications such as Slack, Zoom, Notion, Fantastical, Twitter/X, and Spotify.
A handful of lesser-known applications also got a mention, and while they may reflect that 15% of the 1,200 Mac users surveyed for the report use Setapp, they seem worth noting. That list includes:
- Alfred, which adds a wealth of hotkeys and text expansions to Macs.
- Visual Studio Code, a useful open source tool for code editing.
- Obsidian, a smart writing app.
The state of Mac applications
While the market for Mac applications is characterized by a highly discerning audience, it remains true that if you build software that meets a distinctive need you can generate good sales. Setapp says 83% of its sample groups have paid for Mac software in the last month and confirmed that Mac users understand that high-quality applications cost money and are willing to pay for them. Average payments came out around $50/title.
That’s not particularly surprising ,but it suggests at least one increasing challenge developers must meet.
What about Apple?
Apple uses AI across its systems and we think will introduce its own equivalent generative AI tools in 2024. What isn’t yet clear is how it will deploy them.
Will it fold the capacities exclusively within its own applications such as Music or XCode? Or will it introduce support for conversational AI within its systems as a series of APIs developers can train for use within focused domains to assist with specific tasks inside their apps?
How Apple does bring the tech to market may matter more, given that we can already see how developers on Apple’s platforms are keen to work with AI when they can. This is proved by the existence of a growing number of ChatGPT-supporting apps such as MacWhisper and MacGPT.
Will Apple’s implementation be a platform-wide solution, or a strategically limited expression available only to its own internally-developed applications?
You can check out Setapp’s report here.
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