Apple makes Siri smarter and rolls out software improvements
Apple is working to make its iPhone and other gadgets smarter, responding to competitors’ recent moves by building more artificial intelligence into its Siri digital assistant, photos, maps and other online services. The tech giant kicked off its annual software conference by announcing new software features for the Apple Watch and Apple TV, as well as unveiling a new design for the Apple Music service. It’s also extending Apple Pay to the web, so users can pay for purchases made on their Mac computers using the fingerprint authorisation on their iPhone or Apple Watch. Most of these new features won’t arrive until the autumn. Apple’s wisecracking digital assistant will play a larger role in the company’s products. On Monday, Apple announced that Siri will be coming to Mac desktop and laptop computers, where it can locate files and perform other feats. Siri will also gain new capabilities with Apple TV, where it will let you launch live TV viewing with voice command and search YouTube and the iTunes store for videos. Perhaps more important, Apple is letting Siri work with applications made by other companies. The change will open up new ways for Siri to help iPhone owners get things done more quickly.
Apple’s AI improvements aren’t restricted to Siri. An update to the iMessage app, for instance, will rely on machine learning to automatically suggest appropriate emoji to place alongside texts. It will also show graphics and thumbnails of the information contained in a web link and automatically play online videos when they’re opened by a recipient.
Other changes were more aesthetic. The messaging app, for instance, will let users alter the size of the bubbles surrounding the text to help convey the feelings underlying the words. An expression of love might get a large bubble while a message of condolence might be shown in a very small one. The feature is similar to an upcoming Google messaging app called Allo. Both are expected in a few months.