Apple to revolutionize Siri with advanced AI, enabling precise app control: report

Apple Inc. is set to overhaul its Siri virtual assistant with more advanced artificial intelligence, enabling users to control individual app functions with their voice, according to sources familiar with the matter, as reported by Bloomberg.

Livemint, Written By Shivangini
First Published31 May 2024, 09:59 AM IST
Siri's New AI Overhaul: Apple's virtual assistant, Siri, is set to receive advanced AI updates, allowing for greater control and precision in navigating iPhone and iPad applications.
Siri’s New AI Overhaul: Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, is set to receive advanced AI updates, allowing for greater control and precision in navigating iPhone and iPad applications.

Apple Inc. is set to overhaul its Siri virtual assistant with more advanced artificial intelligence, enabling users to control individual app functions with their voice, Bloomberg reported, quoting sources familiar with the matter.

The new system will allow Siri to command all app features for the first time. This change necessitated revamping Siri’s underlying software using large language models, a core technology behind generative AI. According to the sources, who requested anonymity because the initiative isn't public yet, this is one of the highlights of Apple’s renewed push into AI, the Bloomberg report added.

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The upgrade is a component of Apple’s larger AI strategy, which will be unveiled at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10. Bloomberg has reported that Apple is preparing several features, including voice memo transcriptions and summaries, quick recaps of websites and notifications, automated message replies, advanced photo editing, and AI-generated emojis.

Also Read | Apple WWDC 2024: iOS 18 likely to introduce enhanced Siri with contextual understanding and notification summary, report

As part of the rollout, more basic AI tasks will be processed on the devices, while more advanced capabilities will be handled via cloud computing. The company is also negotiating a deal with OpenAI to integrate the startup’s chatbot and other technologies into the iOS operating system. It is in talks with Google parent Alphabet Inc. about using its Gemini software in the future. Apple software chief Craig Federighi has instructed his teams to develop as many new AI features as possible for this year’s operating system updates.

Also Read | Apple and OpenAI forge billion-dollar AI partnership ahead of WWDC 2024: Report

Siri’s Advanced AI Features to Enhance Precision and Functionality

Siri will be a key focus of the WWDC unveiling. The new system will enable the assistant to control and navigate an iPhone or iPad more precisely, such as opening individual documents, moving notes to different folders, sending or deleting emails, opening specific publications in Apple News, emailing web links, or asking the device for article summaries.

A representative for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment.

Currently, Siri is limited to broader commands like playing music playlists, looking up information, or controlling smart home appliances. The company also offers app intents to developers, allowing them to create ways for Siri to access individual features. In 2018, Apple introduced Siri Shortcuts, letting users manually create commands for app features.

The new system will go further, using AI to analyze user activities on their devices and automatically enable Siri-controlled features. Initially, it will be limited to Apple’s apps, with plans to support hundreds of commands.

According to the sources, the feature is one of Apple’s more complex AI initiatives and isn’t expected to be released until next year as part of a subsequent update to iOS 18. The first version of the new operating system will launch in September, around the same time as the next iPhone models.

The new Siri will initially handle one command at a time, but Apple plans to allow users to chain commands together. For instance, users could ask Siri to summarize a recorded meeting, text a colleague in one request, or ask an iPhone to crop a picture and email it to a friend.

A major component of the new push is a system that will use AI to determine automatically whether a function should be handled on the device or via the cloud.

This approach has raised some privacy questions. While on-device tasks won’t share personal information, the cloud-based approach will require some user data to be transferred to remote servers. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that the information will be protected by the Secure Enclave in the high-end Apple Mac chips powering the data centres.

Apple will attempt to reassure customers about their data privacy by creating an “intelligence report” explaining how the information is secured. The company has also vowed not to build profiles of customers, a practice it has criticized Google and Meta Platforms Inc. for doing.

With the Siri upgrade, Apple aims to revitalize a pioneering product that has lagged behind competitors’ services. Siri was launched in 2011, giving Apple an early lead in voice-based interfaces and AI. However, Apple soon lost that lead to Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa and Google Assistant and was caught off guard again with the emergence of generative AI chatbots two years ago.

Apple is also contending to a sales slowdown, and its shares have underperformed those of its peers this year. The stock is down about 1% in 2024, compared with a 10% gain for the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Stock Index. Apple shares rose 0.5% to $191.29 in New York on Thursday.

Apple is betting that the new AI features for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac — along with the Siri enhancements — will encourage users to upgrade their devices. Many on-device AI capabilities will require an iPhone 15 Pro or later to work, while Macs and iPads will need at least an M1 chip.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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First Published:31 May 2024, 09:59 AM IST
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