Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. By "it" we mean generative AI, and by birds, bees and fleas we mean Google, Microsoft, Meta and pretty much every other tech firm with one notable exception: Apple. While the likes of Microsoft have been busy bundling various forms of machine learning into pretty much everything and even putting a dedicated AI button on PC keyboards, Apple's been keeping its AI powder dry. In public, at least. But this summer we're going to see some big announcements around Apple AI.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is going to unveil a ton of AI-powered things at its annual WWDC developers' conference this year. As previously reported that includes a much better and more responsive version of the Siri personal digital assistant, which is destined for this year's iOS 18. But there's a lot more where Siri's coming from.
Apple and AI: what to expect in 2024
According to the report, Apple's Ajax large language model – Apple's equivalent of Google Bard or Microsoft Copilot – may be used to power a whole bunch of features across multiple Apple apps. That means you can expect AI-powered autocompletion and auto-summarising in core apps and in flagship ones such as Pages and Keynote; AI-powered playlist generation in Apple Music; AI-powered code completion in the Xcode software development platform; and even AI-powered troubleshooting in AppleCare.
We won't be able to use all of these new features immediately – rolling them out will be an ongoing process that'll run well into 2025, the report says – and in the meantime that means Apple's rivals are likely to use the AI gap as part of their marketing.
Of all the AI-related predictions, a smarter Siri is the one I'm really hoping for: Apple's personal digital assistant is lagging far behind the likes of Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, especially when it comes to answering queries: it's 2024 and when I ask Siri a question on my HomePods or Apple Watch it's still telling me to go and look on my iPhone.
Recent updates have made Siri a little more responsive but in my home at least it's still noticeably inferior to Alexa in terms of the accuracy of its voice recognition and its ability to carry out tasks the first time you ask rather than making you repeat the same commands again and again. And of course Siri is a key part of the Vision Pro mixed reality future: if we're going to embrace keyboard-less computing then Siri needs to be one of those things that just works.