A super-charged Siri could take iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices to another level

Imagine Siri, but good. Apple's working on some serious AI improvements to its personal digital assistant

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is getting Siri-ous. Siri, the personal digital assistant that so many of us wish were better, is at the heart of Apple's AI strategy and is expected to get a massive boost in its abilities this year. While some of its best performance will inevitably be on the iPhone 16, the improvements should make Siri better across existing devices too.

The news comes via the New York Times, which says that Apple sees AI as a potentially huge threat to Apple's market share: if we're communicating with our phones via AI rather than apps, that's an area where Apple is currently very weak. The NYT says Apple execs have spent significant time testing ChatGPT and found that it makes Siri look pretty powerless by comparison.

That's not to say ChatGPT or similar systems are perfect; far from it. But the future is clearly more conversational than app-based, and Apple knows it. So it's putting serious resources into improving its digital assistant. According to the NYT, that's partly why the Apple Car got canned: Apple has significantly reorganised its operations and has pulled talent from other parts of the firm to sort Siri and innovate in AI.

What can we expect from Siri in 2024?

The biggest difference between Siri and its upgrade is that the newer version is going to be better at understanding us and carrying out conversations: it'll be able to chat rather than just respond to simple queries. Apple is reportedly working on relatively un-sexy but very important features such as getting Siri to handle productivity things better, for example by setting timers, creating and editing calendar appointments, creating reminders and providing text summaries. 

This is bread and butter stuff, but it's no less important: it's the everyday stuff where critics like me feel Siri is weak, and I'd much rather have a Siri that can do the everyday stuff than one with great generative AI features that can't add an appointment to my calendar or understand what I'm saying.

One of the key differences between Apple and rivals is that Apple's AI is expected to run locally, not on faraway servers. That should mean better performance as well as privacy protection, but it'll also mean you'll need more processing power to get the best from it. And of course, Apple just happens to be preparing more powerful iPhones for launch later this year. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).