Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference for this year – WWDC 2023 – gets underway tomorrow, June 5. We've already heard plenty of rumors about what to expect, and it would seem that Apple's digital assistant Siri is in line for some major updates too.
According to well-known Apple tipster Mark Gurman (via MacRumors), there's a possibility that Apple will announce that the “hey Siri” phrase used to trigger Siri on iPhones and other devices is being shortened to simply “Siri”.
While this might not sound major from a user perspective, it has apparently required a significant amount of engineering work: accurately recognizing a single word rather than two words is a lot trickier, and Apple's AI engines have been updated to cope.
Everyone is asking about Siri, AI and WWDC on Monday. One item I haven’t mentioned in a while has been a major project to drop the “Hey” from “Hey Siri.” I’d look out for that possibility next week. https://t.co/jGqyI54SXEJune 2, 2023
Gurman first suggested this update was on the way back in November, though at the time it wasn't clear exactly when “hey Siri” would become simply “Siri”. Deeper Siri integrations with third-party apps and a better understanding of context have also been rumored.
At the moment, Google Assistant still requires a “hey Google” wake up command, though you can disable it for certain quick commands, and there has been talk of further changes here. As for Amazon Alexa, just an “Alexa” command is enough to get started.
We're expecting a whole host of software and hardware announcements at WWDC 2023 this year, including all the news about iOS 17 and a big reveal for the Apple VR headset – and of course you'll be able to read all about it here on TechRadar.
Analysis: expect yet more AI
Amidst the flurry of generative AI updates we've had in recent months, it's easy to forget that digital assistants like Siri have been around for many years now, with AI models leveraged to recognize and interpret voice commands from users.
At Google I/O 2023, Google seemed keen to remind everyone that it has a lot of artificial intelligence tools to show off, and the company has since been busy pushing more AI into more of its products – such as Google Messages.
We can probably expect the same from Apple at WWDC 2023: a look back at the AI that it's already been using, and a look forward to new innovations on the way. Siri, based on tech Apple acquired in 2010, is likely to play a big part in those new innovations.
AI is a hot topic at the moment, and we know that Apple isn't going to want to miss out or fall behind, whether that's with Siri or any of its other software: Google, OpenAI, Microsoft and others have set the pace, and Apple needs to catch up.