5 Movies, likely the first iPhone app generated almost entirely by ChatGPT, was approved by Apple and published on the App Store late Thursday night.
Morten Just, an independent developer of Mac apps who’s based in Switzerland, guided ChatGPT through the creation of the movie-recommendation app. Just said he told the AI what he wanted, then pasted its output into an Xcode project, writing only an estimated 2% to 5% of the code himself. The chatbot even fixed bugs as Just pasted in error messages.
“What matters to me is creating software that is useful and solves real problems,” Just told Cult of Mac after his 5 Movies app went live. “If I can do that faster with AI, I will.”
ChatGPT writes an iPhone app
As AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Midjourney rapidly advance, they provide users with astonishingly powerful tools for producing everything from essays to artwork. Projects like Just’s show the potential for AI to turn coding into a turnkey operation that even amateurs might be able to exploit.
Morten got a workable prototype of the app “running within five minutes, without having to find an API or look at its documentation,” he told Cult of Mac in an interview published earlier this week.
Once people discovered ChatGPT could write code pretty well, people started goading it into building web apps and other fun tools. But as far as we can tell, this is the first iPhone app written almost entirely by AI to make it through Apple’s sometimes-arduous app review process.
In replies to Morten’s viral tweets that kicked off this journey, people were justifiably skeptical his AI-generated app was the first. But with Just “not having seen any,” and with “no one pointing to an app listing” that proved him wrong, I think Just has the right to the claim.
5 Movies app: There’s a first time for everything
As AI-assisted tools for coding become better and more prevalent, should students avoid pursuing careers in computer science? Morten said he doesn’t think so.
“I think we’ll need even more CS grads,” he said. “I think the nature of CS jobs will change, but they’ll be more interesting and more satisfying. AI, at least at the moment, is a great co-worker — an extension of the programmer, not a replacement.”
Just is known for his Mac utilities, Rotato and Flotato, which he self-publishes through his company, Otato. But this isn’t his first time on the App Store. He “published a few iOS apps while learning Swift a few years ago,” he said, including Duplicato, a learning tool for writers.
So how does it feel, after nearly 15 years of the App Store, creating a new first?
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, honestly,” Just said.
You can read my extended interview with Morten where I asked him about his process. He discusses how he got ChatGPT to build his app, what the generated code looked like, and how AI-coded apps will impact ordinary people as well as software developers.