Apple is testing Siri language generation features

Apple is testing new natural language generation features for Siri, 9to5Mac has learned. This new technology, codenamed “Bobcat”, is being tested starting with the latest tvOS 16.4 beta and will eventually make its way to the rest of Apple’s operating systems. Still, Apple is currently focused on using this technology to improve Siri.

How Apple is testing language-generating features for Siri

In the latest tvOS 16.4 beta, Apple has enabled a new framework for “Siri Natural Language Generation” capabilities. As it stands, Apple only uses natural language generation for telling jokes with Siri on Apple TV. The company is experimenting with how language generation can also be used for timers.

While tvOS powers the Apple TV and HomePod, these new language-generating features are currently only enabled on the Apple TV. Findings by 9to5Mac, however, state that the code for these features is included in iPhone, iPad, Mac, HomePod, and Apple TV. It’s just not currently enabled on anything other than Apple TV.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Apple engineers are testing “language-generating concepts.” Our findings corroborate that report and provide additional details about how Apple is testing these capabilities.

There’s one important thing to keep in mind: just because Apple is testing natural language generation features for Siri, it doesn’t mean it’s developing anything akin to chatbots like ChatGPT. Instead, Apple can use this kind of artificial intelligence technology to significantly improve the existing Siri assistant. from Bloomberg Mark Gurman has too said Apple is not actively working on anything similar to ChatGPT.

Currently, Siri is powered by a template-based system, rather than any kind of language-generating artificial intelligence. As yesterday’s report noted, this has created significant technical and scaling challenges for Siri over the past decade.

There’s no timeline when Apple will expand its current natural language generation technology beyond Apple TV. This is essentially Apple’s way of quietly and slowly beta testing its first foray into this kind of AI technology. These features may also have a server-side component that enables or disables the feature, allowing Apple to fine-tune testing in public.

Eventually, Apple could expand this language-generating technology beyond Siri, but that’s not coming anytime soon.

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