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tvOS hints at natural language-generating features coming to Siri

Published Mar 16th, 2023 6:58PM EDT
tvOS 16.2 redesigned Siri

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Yesterday, The New York Times reported that Apple engineers were testing natural language-generating features with Siri. While it was unclear whether Apple could implement ChatGPT-like functions in its virtual assistant, 9to5Mac now discovered pieces of evidence that Apple is already adding it to the Apple TV operating system with code references to all other systems.

The publication was able to find these tests on the latest tvOS 16.4 beta and says Apple has enabled a new framework for “Siri Natural Language Generation” capabilities. At the moment, it seems Apple is only using this for telling jokes with Siri on the set-top box, and the next step would be for timers.

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

9to5Mac notes that while Apple is actively testing natural language-generating features with Siri, we shouldn’t expect the virtual assistant to work like ChatGPT, as Apple can use “this sort of artificial intelligence technology to significantly improve the existing Siri assistant.” In addition, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman has also said Apple is not actively working on something like ChatGPT.

As reported by The New York Times, a former Apple engineer who worked on the virtual assistant said it’s very complicated to work on Siri due to its huge database. What seems like small updates, such as new phrases, require rebuilding the entire database, which takes up to six weeks. More complex features like new search tools can take nearly a year – meaning Siri could never become a creative assistant like ChatGPT unless it’s completely rebuilt.

That said, it’s still unclear how long Apple could take to expand its current natural language generation tech beyond Apple TV to other operating systems and how long the company will take to talk about this slow but important change to Siri.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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