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Figma Halts AI Design Tool Over Allegations of Copying Apple’s Weather App

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jul 4, 2024

Figma Halts AI Design Tool Over Allegations of Copying Apple’s Weather App

Figma has temporarily suspended its AI-powered tool, Make Designs, after critiques surfaced that it closely mimicked Apple’s iOS weather app design.

This issue was brought to light by Andy Allen, the founder of NotBoring Software, who discovered that the tool often replicated the design of Apple’s app. Allen, whose company offers a customizable weather app among other utilities, raised concerns on X (formerly Twitter), advising other designers of the tool’s potential legal risks.

How Did Figma’s CEO Address the Accusations?

In response to the backlash, Figma’s CEO, Dylan Field, addressed the allegations on X. He clarified that the Make Designs feature relies on pre-existing large language models and systems commissioned by Figma, and was not trained on Figma’s own content or community files. Field refuted the claims that the tool was “heavily” trained on existing apps and attributed the issues to the low variability in the design systems used.

Field admitted the necessity for better quality assurance processes and expressed his commitment to refining the feature’s design system before its reactivation. He took responsibility for the premature launch, which aimed to keep the company competitive but overlooked essential QA work.

Figma has initiated a policy that allows users to opt-in or out of using their content for training its AI, signaling a move towards more transparent and ethical AI development practices. This new policy aims to clarify how user data is utilized and ensures that Figma’s AI tools align with professional and ethical standards.

What Was Make Designs Intended For?

Introduced at Figma’s Config conference, the Make Designs tool was designed to generate user interface layouts and components from textual descriptions, intended to expedite the design process by allowing developers to quickly draft and refine ideas.

However, the backlash has sparked a broader debate within the design community about the impact of AI on creativity and employment. Some argue that AI tools like Make Designs could reduce the demand for human designers by automating repetitive tasks, while others see a potential to free up designers to focus on more innovative aspects of their work.

Figma expects to re-enable the Make Design feature soon after a comprehensive QA pass on the feature’s underlying design system. In the meantime, the company continues to offer other AI features in beta, accessible via a waitlist, as it works to refine its AI offerings and address the concerns raised by the design community.

Figma is the latest company to face scrutiny for incorporating AI into its creative tools. Adobe, after facing backlash over changes to its terms of service, clarified that it would not use users’ work to train its AI. Similarly, Meta had to revise its AI labels following complaints from photographers about real photos being incorrectly labeled.

Featured Image courtesy of Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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