Artificial intelligence has been with us for years, even in small things like identifying faces in a picture to the recommendations we see in our favorite apps. But more recently, we’ve seen new types of AI capable of doing things unimaginable years ago. These new AIs are changing the way people interact with technology. But at the same time, Apple is clearly behind its competitors.
Apple started a trend with Siri, but it quickly became obsolete
It’s impossible to talk about AI and not think of Siri. Apple’s virtual assistant was officially introduced in 2011 after the company acquired Siri technology from a startup in 2010. The technology was capable of understanding a series of commands to help users with searches web. Apple, of course, had ambitious plans for Siri, and so added it as a feature of the iPhone 4S back then.
For that time, Siri’s capabilities were pretty impressive, if limited. Siri can show you the weather, set a timer, search the web, call someone, play a song or create a reminder. All based on voice commands. Apple always said this was just the beginning. But it turns out that Siri never reached its full potential.
Years have passed and very little has been added to Siri. Over the years, it has gained some new tricks, support for new languages, and even new interfaces. But never anything revolutionary about how it works. But, of course, everyone became interested in voice assistants, and quickly Apple’s competitors announced their own versions of Siri.
Google launched its own Assistant, Microsoft created Cortana, and Amazon created Alexa. But while these companies have worked hard to make their assistants smarter over the years, Siri has remained essentially the same as it was in 2011.
A new era for virtual assistants
Almost 12 years after Siri was announced, AI has advanced more than ever. This year, tools like ChatGPT have been showing how virtual assistants can think and even create new content instead of just giving short answers to obvious commands.
Earlier this week, a developer showed how GPT-4 technology is even capable of creating iPhone apps using Apple’s SwiftUI language. Another great example is Brave Search’s new Summarizer feature, which uses AI to generate a short summary based on various sources of what the user is relying on.
More recently, Microsoft announced that it is bringing GPT-4 to its Office productivity suite with a new “Copilot” feature. With this feature, users will be able to do things like open PowerPoint and ask the app to create a complete presentation as described by the user’s command. And while these companies are already shipping products with a new generation of virtual assistants, Apple is still stuck with Siri.
What happened to Siri?
Apple always promised in its presentations that Siri would be better and smarter. But this never happened in practice. According to multiple reports, the team behind Siri simply can’t improve the assistant because of the way it was built.
When Siri launched with the iPhone 4S, Apple basically implemented the code it had acquired from the start. The idea was to ship the product and then work on a new version for the future. But over the years, the company simply added minor updates to the original Siri code rather than working on a new version.
The result is that the Siri code is now a mess, and what many sources say is that no one at Apple really wants to be the one to change it. Based on what 9 to 5 Mac knows about the code inside Siri, most of the assistant’s responses are predefined and not really AI-based.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Apple engineers are testing “language generation concepts” for Siri. 9 to 5 Mac He found references to corroborate this report in the latest beta of tvOS 16.4, the software that runs both the Apple TV and Apple’s HomePod smart speaker.
Still, it’s all very experimental at the moment, and it’s unclear when we’ll see this new AI-powered Siri in real life.
It may be too late for Siri
Apple is known for not being the first to release a feature. But in this case, the company is far behind its competitors. Currently, Siri is a joke and there are many users who complain about how the assistant is not even able to understand basic commands.
Apple seems to have already lost the battle of virtual assistants. While it tries to improve or make Siri worse, its competitors are already releasing new assistants that can create text, images in natural language, and even create new software. It’s time for Apple to stop trying to simply improve Siri and work on something new. Because it’s too late for Siri.
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