Will Apple use AI to Turbocharge Siri?

Siri could soon be getting a serious upgrade. According to rumors, Apple is set to introduce significant generative AI features in its next iOS update, expected to be unveiled at the 2024 WWDC.

Will Apple use AI to Turbocharge Siri?

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce major generative AI features in its next version of iOS, as per tech reporter Mark Gurman's newsletter for Bloomberg. The company is expected to unveil these initiatives at the 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled for June 2024.

The tech giant is working on several new AI tools for iOS, iPad, and Mac users, along with a new AI coding tool for developers, similar to Microsoft's GitHub Copilot. This year, Apple also plans to add generative AI to its programming tool Xcode, which will likely have features akin to GitHub Copilot, such as autocompleting lines of code.

Apple also intends to release various AI features with its upcoming iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 update, code-named ‘Crystal.’ Mac AI features, code-named ‘Glow,’ are also being developed. These features may include AI capabilities to create Apple Music playlists and Keynote presentations and improve Apple's search feature, Spotlight.

These details align with an earlier report from analyst Jeff Pu, who last year suggested that Apple is constructing hundreds of AI servers in 2024 and may be getting ready to introduce AI features for the iPhone and iPad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently hinted at the rollout of Apple's generative AI features "later this year," which affirms some of Pu's predictions. However, Cook didn't elaborate on the specific features or the devices that would be equipped with them.

“As we look ahead, we will continue to invest in these and other technologies that will shape the future. That includes artificial intelligence, where we continue to spend a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we’re excited to share the details of our ongoing work in that space later this year,” Cook then continued, “Let me just say that I think there’s a huge opportunity for Apple with generative AI and with AI, without getting into many more details or getting out ahead of myself.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Tim Cook, Apple CEO

In keeping with Apple's typical release schedule, the company is initially planning to roll out the updates for iOS 18 in a public beta version. This preliminary release is expected to occur in July of this year, offering a first look at the new AI features and improvements to a broader audience.

Following the public beta phase, the main launch is scheduled for September 2024. This is when the thoroughly tested and finalized version of iOS 18 will be made available to all users.

What AI could mean for Siri

Since its release in 2011, Siri has been criticized for comprehension and multitasking issues. To address this, Apple is thought to be enhancing Siri's comprehension skills by tuning its own large language models (LLMs).

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Apple is mandating that its 121-member AI team, responsible for evaluating Siri’s requests and responses for accuracy and usefulness, relocate from San Diego, California, to Texas. Employees who fail to confirm their decision to move to Texas with Apple could face termination by the end of April.

Despite rivals like Microsoft, Samsung, and Google launching various generative AI tools, Apple has adopted a "deliberate and thoughtful" approach to generative AI. According to Gurman, even with new AI innovations and an improved Siri, Apple’s full realization of its generative AI vision is expected to take until 2025.

"Starting with generative AI, Apple's tools — when they launch — will come nearly two years after ChatGPT began to take the world by storm, about a year after Amazon announced its revamped Alexa and about a year and a half after Microsoft and Google debuted their new services," Gurman said. "Even for Apple, that's quite a miss."

Taking an optimistic view, Apple's plans to integrate generative AI features into its next version of iOS indicate a promising future for Siri. Given the criticism it has faced over the years, these advancements could significantly enhance its comprehension skills and multitasking abilities, making it more efficient and user-friendly.

For instance, AI could help Siri better understand user requests, resulting in more accurate and relevant responses. It could predict user needs, offering proactive assistance even before a request has been made. Siri could handle complex tasks involving multiple steps or apps without the need to set up convoluted custom actions in the Shortcuts app.

However, it's important to note that the full realization of Apple's generative AI vision, including an improved Siri, isn't expected until 2025 at the earliest. This timeline puts Apple behind its competitors. Hopefully, Apple's "deliberate and thoughtful" approach to AI integration could result in a more refined and reliable user experience.

These advancements in Siri's capabilities could mark a significant turning point in the evolution of the virtual assistant, potentially setting new standards for AI integration in consumer technology. As Apple continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what's possible with AI, the future looks promising for Siri and its users.