If you’ve had a chance to use ChatGPT, you may have found yourself concluding, “Wouldn’t this be perfect as a voice assistant?” And you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, Google seems to be shifting its Google Assistant team towards Google Bard — its competing chatbot to ChatGPT and the new Bing with ChatGPT from Microsoft.
One company has been noticeably absent from the AI chatbot race though, and that’s Apple. While others have figured out how to use Siri with ChatGPT and made other integrations like S-GPT to integrate ChatGPT’s power into your iPhone, there’s been no official chatbot from Apple.
And we now might have a good idea why. In a bombshell report from The Information, it appears that Apple has been struggling to adapt to the shifting tech landscape. While its competitors have been hurtling toward a policy of putting AI in everything, Apple has taken almost the opposite approach, particularly with Siri. And unless things change, it means we shouldn’t expect ChatGPT-like features in Siri any time soon.
Apple’s AI-hesitancy is a stark contrast to Google, Microsoft
While most of The Information’s report on Siri is about the business poltics inside Apple, there are some key hints that are dropped that indicate AI won’t come to Siri this year.
First, it’s important to know that Siri’s responses are mostly written and edited by humans rather than generated by any sort of computer program. This is to ensure Apple protects its brand image and avoids incidents like Bing with ChatGPT going off the deep end and Google Bard making a $100 billion mistake.
And each incident that does happen seems to make Apple double down on this strategy. At one point, as The Information lays out, Apple began grading user queries to Siri, which meant reviewing the vast stores of voice data collected from Siri users. However, this project blew up when a Guardian report exposed that Apple contractors were listening to voice recordings without user consent. This ground using the audio data to improve Siri to a halt and now only individual teams made of Apple employees use this trove of data.
Then there was an incident in Indiana where a boy told Siri he was going to “shoot up a school.” Siri’s response was to — alarmingly — point the boy in the direction of nearby schools.
While thankfully, the boy didn’t intend to actually commit this heinous act and so nobody was hurt, Apple took the incident very seriously and demanded the Siri team prevent it from occurring in the future with an immediate fix. This was apparently a common response to Siri causing embarrassment, with even Apple CEO Tim Cook personally asking at times that Siri’s problematic responses be fixed to prevent further incidents.
AI will come to Siri — just slowly
At this point, it’s pretty clear that Apple prioritizes brand image and user privacy over AI innovation at all costs. That’s a clear contrast from what we’ve seen recently form Apple’s competitors — though ChatGPT now allows you to keep chats private in an effort to assuage privacy concerns.
But Apple can’t put this off forever, and it seems change is eventually coming. While Apple executives have previously declined to give Siri more conversational features, calling them “gimmicky,” we could see this change as soon as 2024.
According to The Information, Apple engineers are working on numerous Siri upgrades based on the use of the large language models (LLMs) that power AI chatbots like ChatGPT. The current hope is this new Siri would be ready for a new version of iOS next year — presumably iOS 18.