| Cult of Mac

Apple’s conversational AI efforts began 4 years ago


John Giannandrea
John Giannandrea started Apple working on conversation AI long before ChatGPT came along.
Photo: Apple

Don’t accuse Apple of just waking up to benefits of conversational AI. It reportedly started developers working on voice-driven artificial intelligence systems four years ago.

And the company is now pouring money into the project.

Here’s your chance to work for Apple as an AI engineer


Siri desperately needs some ChatGPT-like smarts
There's a lot Siri doesn't understand. And that's a problem.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Want to make Siri smart again and help boost Apple’s artificial-intelligence chops across the board? A recent Apple job posting shows it seeks “machine-learning engineers with a background and/or interest in conversational and generative AI.”

“This role will play a critical part in helping Apple change the way humans learn about learning,” the listing noted.

Hard to say if the new engineers will inject more gray matter into Siri, but one source suggests they might work on device-based apps for Apple’s AR/VR headset, expected to show on Monday at WWDC23 Monday.

Add ChatGPT to iPhone or Mac with this new Shortcut


Add ChatGPT to iPhone or Mac with this new Shortcut
Have ChatGPT always available on your iPhone with S-GPT.
Photo: Federico Viticci/MacStories

Don’t be jealous of Microsoft Bing’s new AI capabilities: A new Shortcut called S-GPT integrates OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot into Apple devices. It works as a conversational search engine but can do much more, including summarizing a webpage and creating an Apple Music playlist from a list of suggested songs.

It’s a Shortcut rather than an app, and it’s free to download. There’s a very small fee for using it.

This could be the ‘social companion robot’ you didn’t know you needed


Enabot's slogan for the Ebo Air and Ebo SE robots is
Enabot's slogan for the Ebo Air and Ebo SE robots is "always together."
Photo: Enabot

Talk of artificially intelligent personal robots may make some people think of Terminator and “the rise of the machines,” but relax, there’s likely plenty of time before they take over. All nervous kidding aside, in the meantime, companies like Enabot are putting out affordable robots with practical uses. The company launched one on Tuesday.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the company released its Ebo Air “social companion robot.” The little rolling orb is designed to keep the home safe and loved ones entertained and connected, from pets to kids to grandparents, the company said.

Apple and its latest acquisition will make AI music together


StaffPad being used on iPad
Soon your iPhone can write music just for you.
Photo: David William Hearn

Apple reportedly bought AI Music, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to create songs in real time.

The technology will most likely be integrated into the Apple Photos application for creating background music for slideshows and video montages.

Apple goes on AI shopping spree to make Siri smarter


Siri Lights
A slew of AI-related acquisitions might make Siri less of a nimrod. Which is important considering it’s built into so many products, like HomePods.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple reportedly bought more companies developing artificial intelligence technology over the past five years than anyone else. A prime goal is to make the Siri voice assistant smarter, according to GlobalData, the market-research firm that compiled a list of AI-related acquisitions by many companies.

Apple acquires Xnor.ai for faster, more private iPhone artificial intelligence


Xnor.ai promises AI everywhere.
Xnor.ai’s artificial intelligence software for mobile devices is likely headed for iPhones.
Photo: Xnor.ai

Apple purchased Xnor.ai, a company that creates artificial intelligence software for mobile devices. The acquisition will apparently lead to AI applications running directly on iPhones, iPads, etc., not outsourced to the cloud. This should make these tasks more private and quicker.

Laserlike acquisition boosts Apple’s AI capabilities


The Laserlike app used machine learning to find relevant news articles.
The Laserlike app used machine learning to find relevant news articles.
Photo: Laserlike

Apple bought a small startup that created an app that used machine learning to auotomically find news articles users would be interested in.

The acquisition of Laserlike is expected to  bolster Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts.

How Apple’s AI gurus made Siri an expert in local businesses


Siri Alexa in voice report
Siri knows the name of your local pizza joint, making it much easier to get directions when you have a craving.
Photo: Apple

Siri is quite good at recognizing what we say, but used to run into difficulties with the names of small businesses. That was until Apple developers found a way to make her much better at this task.

In fact, the new system is more than 40 percent less likely to come up with the wrong business name.