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ChatGPT copycats flood app stores to cash in on AI craze

ChatGPT can understand and generate human-like answers to text prompts (Alamy / PA)
ChatGPT can understand and generate human-like answers to text prompts (Alamy / PA)

The official ChatGPT mobile app may have trouble getting noticed on app stores amid a slew of chatbot imitators.

The knockoffs, with interchangeable names like ChatAI and AI Chat, boast the same basic function as ChatGPT, and similar logos to boot, according to Bloomberg. You can ask them to create summaries of articles, write emails, or generate recipes.

But, are they muddying the waters for people seeking the real deal?

ChatGPT creator OpenAI released a free iPhone app for its viral chatbot earlier this week, to capitalise on the AI tool’s runaway success. Two months after the public began previewing the bot, ChatGPT had snapped up 100 million monthly users.

The official iPhone app, which lets you text and even speak to the bot using your voice, debuted in the US and is set to arrive in the UK at a later date. An Android version is also on the cards, according to OpenAI.

However, it risks being crowded out of app stores by a wave of copycats looking to ride the AI gravy train. Many of these apps come with underlying charges for access to the basic ChatGPT, a service that is otherwise free to use on the web and mobile.

Some have even been labeled as “fleeceware” in reference to their deceptive marketing tricks. Dubious apps with names like Open Chat GBT and GAI Assistant are either filled with ads, or lock features behind paywalls after brief free trials, according to cybersecurity firm Sophos.

In response, Apple and Google removed the apps in question from their app stores. Thankfully, you can usually spot “fleeceware”, as Sophos called it, by its low review score on an app store.

However, not all ChatGPT rivals are rip-offs. As mentioned above, some offer genuine access to ChatGPT for a price. For Brits, tried and trusted apps such as GeePeeTee offer a more streamlined way to access the bot on iPhone — at least until the official ChatGPT app arrives on these shores.

Still, it’s unclear what benefits the premium apps provide in comparison to the official chatbot.

Although OpenAI offers a $20-a-month (around £16) “pro” subscription to the latest GPT-4 chatbot (which guarantees availability during peak usage and provides early access to new functionality), it’s unlikely that these clones offer the same tech.

OpenAI also actively encourages developers to create tools using its standard AI system, known as the GPT-3.5 large-language model.

As a result, ChatGPT powers other chatbots, including Microsoft’s Bing AI (built on the more advanced GPT-4), Snapchat’s My AI, and the wave of alternatives on app stores. OpenAI’s ChatGPT API costs developers around $0.06 for every 750 words of output.

While many of the copycats aren’t breaking any rules per se, they could be accused of making life that bit harder for the general public. But, with the real ChatGPT now available on iPhone, the end could be nigh for its duplicates.