After the big year ChatGPT had and Google’s big Gemini push earlier this week, I’m certain that Apple can’t sit on the sidelines of AI for much longer. Generative AI should be available in one way or another on the iPhone 16 series. That’s in addition to all the AI features that are already at work on the iPhone. I don’t need leaks to tell you that, though we have plenty of those as well.
The latest news comes from the well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. His iPhone supply chain sources informed him the iPhone 16 models are in for big microphone upgrades. He says the new mics will help Siri be even more responsive when it’s listening for AI-related commands. At the very least, if this isn’t an AI-related upgrade, Siri might not say “I didn’t quite get that” as often once the new microphones arrive.
Like me and plenty of longtime iPhone users who observe the tech space closely, Kuo also thinks next year’s iPhones are getting generative AI features.
“With artificial intelligence-generated content (AIGC) gaining significant popularity in 2023, it is not difficult to predict that the iPhone 16 will offer relevant innovative features,” he said in a note on Medium. “But the critical question is whether there is relevant evidence to support this prediction.”
Kuo added that Apple reorganized the Siri team in the third quarter of 2023 to integrate AIGC and large language models (LLM) tech like ChatGPT. Voice input will be the key interface on smartphones. He said that “strengthening Siri’s hardware and software features and specifications is the key to promoting AIGC.”
We’ve already seen signs from competitors that voice prompts will become key to the AI experience. OpenAI lets you talk to ChatGPT on the free version of the mobile app. Separately, Google is adding its AI o Assistant. Then there’s Microsoft’s Copilot assistant on Windows and the web.
Kuo pointed out that his latest survey indicates the iPhone 16 models are all going to get significant microphone upgrades to serve AI features:
My latest survey indicates that all iPhone 16 models will feature a significant upgrade in microphone specifications. In addition to better water resistance, the key specification upgrade is a better signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) to improve the Siri experience significantly. It could indicate that Apple expects to integrate more AI/AIGC capabilities into Siri as a key selling point of the iPhone 16.
Kuo singled out AAC and Goertek as the main beneficiaries of Apple’s microphone orders for the iPhone 16. The upgrades could also lead to a more expensive bill of materials for the new handsets. Kuo says the microphones for each iPhone 16 will cost 100-150% more than the iPhone 15 similar parts.
Furthermore, Kuo expects other Apple products and high-end Android phones to feature upgraded microphones next year. The purpose is similar, to handle AI voice requests better.