Apple is reportedly testing new natural language generation features for Siri, its virtual personal assistant. The technology is intended to improve Siri. A 9to5Mac report says Apple is testing the new technology, which is codenamed “Bobcat,” in the latest tvOS 16.4 beta. The technology will make its way to the rest of Apple’s operating system once it has been tested on the Apple TV.
The latest tvOS 16.4 has a new framework enabled, for “Siri Natural Language Generation” capabilities. While Apple is currently only using the feature to tell jokes using Siri on the Apple TV, the Cupertino firm is also exploring how natural language generation could also be used for timers.
While both the Apple TV and Apple’s HomePod and HomePod mini smart speakers run tvOS, the natural language generation framework is only enabled on the Apple TV. 9to5Mac investigated and found that the code for the features is included across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, HomePod, and Apple TV, it’s not enabled on any device except for the Apple TV.
9to5Mac’s findings corroborate with a New York Times report on Wednesday that Apple engineers are testing “language-generating concepts.” However, 9to5Mac discovered additional details on Apple’s testing of the new capabilities.
While Apple is testing natural language generation features for Siri, the new features shouldn’t be confused with anything like the ChatGPT chatbots that are currently flourishing on the web. The artificial intelligence technology Apple is working on instead can be used to significantly improve Siri’s assistant capabilities. Also, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman assures us that Apple is not working on anything like ChatGPT.
Generative AI includes algorithms that can create content, including audio, images, text, and videos. Meanwhile, at the moment, Siri relies upon a database of information but cannot create anything on the fly to be used as a response to a user’s inquiry.
The natural language generation artificial intelligence features Apple is testing will help Apple to improve Siri’s features, allowing the Cupertino firm to take Siri beyond its current template-based responses. The current template-based framework has resulted in significant engineering and scaling challenges over the last decade.
Apple could eventually expand its natural language generation framework technology could eventually be used in technology beyond Siri, but Apple has no immediate plans to do so.
Only time will tell us when Apple will deem to expand its natural language generation technology beyond just the Apple TV. Apple typically “beta tests” its technology much like this, quietly and with the ability to be enabled or disabled on the server side.