In a move to make Siri more intelligent and functional, Apple plans to integrate language models in the next iteration of its iPhone operating system, iOS 18.
According to a report by The Information, this update will enable Siri to comprehend and automate complex, multi-step tasks through voice commands. For instance, users could ask Siri to capture a series of five photos, convert them into a GIF, and then send the generated GIF to a friend. While such a task can be accomplished through the Shortcuts app in current iOS versions, the language model upgrade will allow Siri to automate these processes without requiring manual setup by the user.
Shortcuts, a feature integral to the iPhone’s operating system, is expected to see deeper integration with Siri in iOS 18. Apple already offers a diverse gallery of Shortcut options, ranging from image editing tasks to chore list creation. As Shortcuts have grown to become a critical component of the iOS ecosystem, it is anticipated that Siri’s new capabilities will further extend the possibilities of automated actions on the iPhone.
Despite its position as one of the earliest voice assistants, Siri has often been criticized for lagging behind competitors such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. This is primarily because of Apple’s commitment to user privacy and security, which limits Siri’s data processing to on-device activities instead of utilizing cloud servers. The impending adoption of language models in iOS 18 reflects Apple’s attempt to reconcile privacy concerns with enhanced functionality.
Interestingly, the upcoming iOS 17 release lays the groundwork for these advanced capabilities by allowing Siri to recognize and execute multiple consecutive voice commands without requiring reactivation. Furthermore, iOS 17 eliminates the necessity for the “Hey” wake word, thus streamlining user interactions with Siri and making them more natural.
The announcement of the feature set for iOS 18 is expected to be part of Apple’s 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference, adhering to the company’s strict software release timetable.