There are three clues that it may be able to do

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With clear evidence that 2024 is going to see dramatic improvements in Apple’s AI features, will iOS 18 Siri finally turn things around?
Bloomberg has reported Apple referring to iOS 18 as one of the biggest iOS updates it has ever made, and that AI is the focus of this.
The Financial Times got a little more specific, indicating that Siri would this year be powered by a ChatGPT-style generative AI model.
9to5Mac found evidence in an iOS 17.4 beta that Apple is working on a new version of Siri powered by generative AI technology.
Clue 2: Generative AI’s ability to divine intent Since then, of course, we got generative AI.
What might this mean for iOS 18 Siri?
But the original Siri team have already demonstrated just how much was possible even before generative AI.
Do you think this is a reasonable expectation for an all-new version of Siri powered by generative AI in iOS 18?

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Long-time critics of Siri have claimed that it has lagged behind other digital assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa. Will iOS 18 Siri finally make a difference, given the overwhelming evidence that Apple’s AI features will see significant improvements by 2024?

I sincerely hope the response is in the affirmative, and I believe there are three hints that offer some cause for hope.

The protracted wait by Apple to enhance Siri.

Three factors explain why Apple hasn’t jumped into generative AI.

The company has a well-established strategy when it comes to new technology. It feels that it can provide a better experience than the competition, so it would rather let other businesses deal with the cutting edge problems before entering the market.

Second, Apple places a high priority on privacy, trying to process as much information as possible locally on the device instead of sending sensitive information to a server for processing. With the September release of offline Siri in the newest Apple Watch models, the company has already made a modest progress toward this objective.

Third, Apple is a small-c conservative company that prefers to avoid controversy whenever possible. Although generative AI has amazed people with the seeming intelligence of its responses, it has also done some incredibly stupid things, such as suggesting a Nazi salute phrase in response to appearing to try and commit fraud.

A spoken interface, I have also argued, increases the stakes.

But this year is going to be different.

In my opinion, Apple has been delaying for valid reasons, but at this point, it is impractical to delay any longer, and there is ample proof that Apple will finally join the generative AI bandwagon in 2024.

According to Bloomberg, Apple claims that iOS 18 is one of the largest iOS updates it has ever released, with AI serving as the main theme.

A generative AI model akin to ChatGPT will power Siri this year, according to the Financial Times, which went a little further.

An iOS 17.4 beta revealed to 9to5Mac that Apple is developing a new Siri that is driven by generative AI.

Even Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who is typically very quiet about the company’s future intentions, stated that the company is “excited to share the details of our ongoing work in this space [AI] later this year.”. “.

What then may we anticipate?

First clue: The Siri team’s initial objective.

The inability of Siri to meaningfully interface with other apps is one of its greatest flaws. Naturally, it can control smart home appliances, and there are Siri Shortcuts, but generally speaking, Siri is powerless to assist if the task at hand calls for a third-party app. This is the reason behind the infamous “This is what I found online” reply.

However, this is precisely what’s required for Siri to develop into a really helpful and perceptive assistant. to actually begin having it carry out some of the duties that are currently completed by human PAs.

Actually, this was the goal set by the Siri development team at the beginning. The third-party version of the app actually integrated with forty-two services before Apple was acquired. Apple removed this feature, probably in an effort to make Siri more dependable at doing fewer tasks.

Consequently, Apple took a different approach, drastically reducing Siri’s capabilities, and the original team developed a new intelligent assistant called Viv, which has deep integration with third-party apps to perform intricate tasks.

This is an illustration of what Viv was capable of back in 2016:.

On his smartphone, one of the engineers said, “Get me a pizza from Pizz’a Chicago near my office.”. The artificial intelligence system, called Viv, had been covertly developed by the team for over a year, and this was its first major test. Everyone was feeling a little uneasy. Then Viv texted, asking, “Would you like toppings with that?”.

The eight engineers all at once jumped in, saying, “Pepperoni.”. Slice the cheese in half. “Salad with pasta. Inspired by the outcome, they gave Viv more orders, like “Add more toppings.”. Take off the garnishes. Switch to large from medium size.

After several hiccups when Viv mistook the office address, and about forty minutes later, a Pizza Chicago driver arrived with four freshly made pizzas.

The second clue is the divine intent capability of generative AI.

Naturally, generative AI has since emerged.

Although the majority of people have expressed admiration for the output, which in better cases reads more human than machine-generated, I find what’s most impressive about ChatGPT’s technology is how it manages the input. It excels at determining our intention.

We can potentially enable Siri to use multiple apps to perform complex tasks if it can understand our goals and can communicate with external apps and services such as Uber, Booking.com, airlines, and so forth.

The third clue comes from Apple’s own studies on how users interact with apps.

Earlier this week, we were given the last hint.

The company has been working on Ferret-UI, a generative AI system made especially to be able to understand app screens, as detailed in a research paper published by Apple. The paper is a little hazy on the possible uses of this, probably on purpose, but the most intriguing one would be to power a far more sophisticated Siri.

Saying something like “Check flights from JFK to Boston tomorrow, and book a seat on a flight that will get me there by 10am with a total fare below $200,” is what a user could instruct Siri to do. After that, Siri would communicate with the airline app to complete the job.

What might this indicate for Siri on iOS 18?

When we combine all of this, we get a completely redesigned Siri that can communicate with other iPhone apps and make sense of our requests by utilizing generative AI capabilities.

After that, Siri ought to be able to react to queries similar to this one:.

“I would like to recommend some flights and hotels for WWDC 2024. “.

Parsing is handled by generative AI. It is aware that in order to find out the location and dates of WWDC, it must search for it. It calculates our required travel distance using our known home location.

It determines which airline I use and which hotel groups I prefer by using the apps on my iPhone. Then, for the more well-known ones, it makes use of Siri integrations made by Apple with those services.

In cases where Apple hasn’t developed a Siri integration, it communicates with other apps in order to accomplish our goals.

While I do not believe we can rely solely on Siri to make all of our reservations, I do believe it will need to present us with options after putting its suggestions to the test. But after we do, we should be able to say, “Go ahead and reserve the Mosser and the American flights that are leaving at 3 p.m. on the 9th and coming back at 11 a.m. on the 15th.”. “.

Rigid anticipation or pipe dream?

Nearly ten years have passed since I submitted a feature request asking Siri to communicate with outside applications. It hasn’t actually occurred yet; could it be happening at last at this time?

Undoubtedly, it’s an ambitious objective. However, even before generative AI, the original Siri team showed just how much was possible. I’d like to think that what I’ve described above is possible given the advancements that have been made since then.

Please take our poll and let us know what you think—do you think this is a reasonable expectation for a brand-new, generative AI-powered Siri in iOS 18? Please leave your comments below.

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