Apple using AI to make Siri more useful

Apple reportedly intends to fulfill the hopes of so many iPhone users by giving the Siri voice assistant an upgrade with artificial intelligence. A broad outline of the plan leaked out Friday.

Siri supposedly won’t become a general-purpose chatbot. It’ll be focused on better handling the sort of tasks iPhone users need.

Apple will finally make Siri smarter with AI

When Apple launched Siri back in 2011, the voice-driven system showed real potential. But more than a dozen years later it hasn’t made much progress. OpenAI’s ChatGPT wowed the world by demonstrating the possibilities of generative AI. Siri’s ability to understand a limited selection of verbal commands is no longer good enough. It makes iPhone, Mac, HomePod and other devices less useful than they could be.

Apple is clearly aware of the problem, and CEO Tim Cook strongly hinted that new features coming in 2024 to all the company’s operating systems will heavily focus on AI. And that reportedly includes Siri.

“Apple is expected to show off its A.I. work at its annual developers conference on June 10 when it releases an improved Siri that is more conversational and versatile,” the New York Times reported Friday.

The plan supposedly is not to make Siri into a direct competitor for CharGPT. Users won’t turn to it for help with their homework or a résumé, for example.

The NYT said, “Apple has focused on making Siri better at handling tasks that it already does, including setting timers, creating calendar appointments and adding items to a grocery list. It also would be able to summarize text messages.”

More local, more secure

Limiting the capabilities of the voice assistant will allegedly allow it run entirely on users’ iPhone or Macs. That will allow user interactions to be private — Apple frequently touts a commitment to privacy. In contrast, ChatGPT, Google Gemini and other rival generative AI systems run on remote servers where there’s no realistic hope of privacy.

That said, other reports indicate that Apple will take a hybrid approach to AI-related software. Some of it will be local, while more taxing artificial intelligence services supposedly will depend on data centers with servers running on the company’s own processors.

Stay tuned for more

Friday’s report is one of the most significant leaks about Apple’s AI plans. Currently, few specifics are known about upcoming AI features in iOS 18, macOS 15 and other operating systems. It’s assumed the built-in applications will be able to, for example, summarize emails, webpages and text message chats. Users probably will be able to seamlessly remove objects from images, and perhaps add them. Or they might be able to tweak their photos using spoken commands.

If the NYT is correct, the new version of Siri upgraded with AI will be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC24 developer conference, which kicks off a month from today. At the same time, the world will get its first look at the AI-enhanced features of iOS 18, macOS 15, etc.

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