Apple is Giving Up on Siri

It's even worse than we thought...

Good morning! ☀️ *Tim Cook voice*

Apple employees hate Siri, iOS 17 will bring a surprise new app, the App Store scams are getting worse, and much more.

Estimated reading time: 4.5 minutes

📊 Poll

Last week, I asked how long your iPhone passcode is..

We’re the same! I also use a 6-digit passcode

Here were some of my favorite replies:

“Alphanumeric would just be too hard to type and remember, and also just the word alphanumeric took me about 5 tries to get right and even autocorrect couldn’t help me then” 🤣

“I use an alphanumeric passcode that is 14+ characters, with letters, numbers and symbols, which is different on all my devices and accounts. This is much more secure than 4-6 digit passcodes.” Absolutely more secure! But.. I have to ask: Is it a pain to type all of that in after your phone reboots/Face ID fails? 😅

“Once i had put alphanumeric passcode, I forgot within 5 days since I always used face recognition. I had no backup or iCloud subs, leading me to finally reset the iphone and lose all data.” This is the main downside to alphanumeric imo. It’s more secure, but make sure to write it down somewhere secure just in case this happens to you.

“I am a Blind/Low Vision iPhone user and require the IOS Voiceover screen reader. I can easily handle 6 digits but alpha-numeric would be a little more challenging.“ Good point, I hadn’t thought of this use-case!

This week: How often do you use Siri? More on this subject later..

How Often Do You Use Siri?

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📲 Quick Tip

The Siri Suggestions Widget

One of my favorite widgets is the dynamically-changing Siri Suggestions widget.

  • Press & hold on the home screen to enter jiggle mode

  • Tap the “+” icon in top left

  • Scroll down to “Siri Suggestions”

  • Choose your preferred size and press “add widget”

  • The suggestions will change throughout the day based on time and learned behaviors

🗣️ Apple is Giving Up on Siri

CNET

Siri was incredible in 2011. Revolutionary, even.

But now, in 2023, Apple is not only far behind the competition, but a new report details how Apple employees have already given up on Siri.

  • By 2018, the team working on ‌Siri‌ had "devolved into a mess, driven by petty turf battles between senior leaders and heated arguments over the direction of the assistant

  • In 2019, the Siri team wanted to rewrite the virtual assistant from scratch, but it was eventually replaced by another project, codenamed "Siri X," which aimed to move Siri's processing on-device for privacy reasons.

  • One of the major problems facing the Siri team is employee retention, due to the team being too slow to make decisions and being too conservative in its approach to new AI technologies

  • Apple lost 3 of its Siri engineers to Google, despite Tim Cook trying to persuade them to stay

  • Top executives at Apple are wary of Siri making major mistakes in its responses, due to the bad press it would attract

  • The team working on Apple’s AR/VR headset became so frustrated with Siri that it considered “building alternative methods” for controlling the headset with voice technology.

In an all-hands meeting, leaders of Apple’s AI and machine-learning team addressed the tensions, agreeing that mistakes were bound to happen and that it was their job to educate Apple’s top executives about how machine-learning models improve.

In one example, Giannandrea and the search team led by Venkatachary were finally able to reach a compromise with the Siri design team by creating a button that allowed users to report a concern or an issue with the content of a Siri answer, a former Siri employee said.

The incidents explain why many former employees in Apple’s AI group are skeptical that the company will be successful in developing the next wave of AI products based on LLMs. The company’s senior leaders haven’t shown much stomach for the kinds of headline-grabbing gaffes ChatGPT and similar services have stumbled into over the last several months.

Apple has had internal issues since the very beginning of Siri and to me, it seems like Apple execs are too afraid of the results not being “perfect” and that is simply unrealistic to avoid at scale.

Now that the AI craze is happening at a far more rapid pace, I’m willing to bet that the Apple execs are bending a bit, and are likely more open to Siri making mistakes. WWDC 2023 will tell us a lot about what’s been going on behind the scenes.

This report was based on interviews with more than three dozen former Apple employees who worked in its AI and machine learning groups.

✍️ Apple Will Soon Know Everything

Day One (above) is the leading Journal app right now

Apple is gearing up to release a new journaling app for logging daily activities, according to the WSJ.

  • Can Jot down daily activities, just like you would in a physical journal

  • It will analyze the users' behavior to determine what a typical day is like, including how much time is spent at home compared with elsewhere, and whether a certain day included something outside the norm

  • Can grant it access to your text messages & phone calls, for additional data points

  • The analysis of the user’s day will take place on-device

As someone who uses the Notes app as my journal, I love this idea! I was initially worried about privacy after reading the headline, but I’m glad that all data will stay on-device.

Side note: Apple is also working on a separate AI-powered health coaching service for tracking emotions, according to Bloomberg.

🚗 Can CarPlay Be Topped?

So there’s a growing trend of automakers following Tesla’s lead and ditching CarPlay for proprietary software. First was Rivian, and now GM.

  • GM is working with Google for their built-in infotainment system

  • GM’s CFO believes that their software solution will be equally as compelling, if not more compelling than CarPlay

  • This is being done for profit margins & to collect more data

  • Apple responded by updating their CarPlay page. It now says “More than 800 models to choose from. It’s easier than ever to find a vehicle that works with CarPlay.”

So this has me curious, can CarPlay be topped? I mean, the integration with the iPhone is the best I’ve ever seen in a car. Drop a vote in the poll below and elaborate after answering if you have a strong lean.

Would You Buy a New Car Without CarPlay?

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🥽 Apple’s Headset Will Be Funky

Apple’s AR/VR headset has been the talk of the town leading up to WWDC and now we have a lot more insight, and this thing is shaping up to be funky!

Here are the latest leaks, related to the design:

  • It will have an external battery pack that will be worn around the waist

  • The battery will last ~2 hours

  • Can swap out the battery pack for a charged one

  • Battery packs to cost ~$100

  • The charging cable has a round tip that inserts magnetically

  • Will also have a USB-C port for data transfer

Gurman also revealed some software-based features to expect:

  • The ability to run most of Apple’s existing iPad apps in mixed reality

  • A new Wellness app with a focus on meditation, featuring immersive graphics, calming sounds and voice-overs

  • A new portal for watching sports in VR

  • A large gaming focus, including top-tier titles from existing 3rd party developers

  • A feature to use the headset as an external monitor for a connected Mac

As I’ve said before, I’m bullish on this headset longterm. The 1st generation headset will not be something that many (if any) of your IRL friends have.

But this is laying the groundwork. Once that cheaper headset drops (hopefully in 2024 or early 2025), I think it will be a much bigger deal than people are imagining right now in 2023. We shall see!

👨‍💻 New App Store Scams

ChatGPT and AI applications are the new craze, and bad actors are preying on that with scammy apps in the App Store.

Earlier this week, a security researcher published a piece and here were his findings:

  • Dozens of copycat ChatGPT applications are flooding the App Store, many by the same developers

  • They’re using fake reviews to get boosted in search results

  • The paywalls in the apps are not able to be closed, forcing users to pay WEEKLY for a free service (ChatGPT)

FYI: ChatGPT is free to use, utilizing the API costs literal pennies, and ChatGPT Plus is $20/mo. So don’t pay more for an app that adds nothing on top of ChatGPT.

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