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Figma disabled its new AI-generated app feature after it produced copycat designs

Figma’s new AI-powered Make Designs feature produced an app that looked strikingly similar to Apple’s Weather app. But what should we expect from AI?

Figma disabled its new AI-generated app feature after it produced copycat designs
[Source photo: Getty Images]

During its annual developer conference last week, Figma introduced Make Designs, an AI-driven tool that helps users quickly generate app interfaces. Now, Figma has pulled the tool after accusations that its Make Designs generated looks very similar to existing apps—namely Apple’s Weather app.

In a post on X, Not Boring CEO Andy Allen suggested that Figma’s tool appeared to be “heavily trained on existing apps.” The tweet caused a firestorm, prompting Figma CEO Dylan Field to take to X clarify that Make Designs was not, in fact, trained on preexisting apps, or any Figma files for that matter. “[T]he Make Designs feature is not trained on Figma content, community files, or app designs,” he wrote.

Instead, Field claims Make Designs uses off-the-shelf LLMs that were trained on “bespoke” design systems the company commissioned. It’s unclear what these design systems look like or how many were used in the creation of Make Designs, but Field acknowledges that the new feature has a serious shortcoming. “The problem with this approach—which I outlined in my keynote last week—is that variability is too low,” he wrote.

The Make Designs problem poses a threat to Figma users who might unwittingly find themselves with a legal issue should they create a “new” app that cribs too much from an existing one. On a more conceptual level, an AI that reproduced existing work is only going to further the homogenization of our digital lives.

Field said he was at fault “for not insisting on a better QA process for this work and pushing our team hard to hit a deadline for Config.” When asked for additional comment, the company referred me to Field’s X thread: “We want to reiterate the part of Dylan’s tweet that stated the root cause of this issue was the design system that we created. We hope to reenable it soon, but will make sure the underlying issue is resolved first.”

According to reporting from The Verge, Figma CTO Kris Rasmussen says Make Designs uses GPT-4o and Amazon’s Titan Image Generator G1. Whether or not these LLMs were trained on Apple apps is unclear, but the snafu highlights just how much of a challenge it is for AI to generate something completely new.

Figma could potentially get around the homogeny trap by training its models on even more bespoke design systems, but the reality is that, right now, LLMs are essentially like cocktails. How many ways can you make an Old Fashioned (or a weather app) using the same basic ingredients?

Make Designs is still in beta, and Figma execs say it will remain disabled until its team can do a full quality assurance pass.

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Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company. More

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