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WWDC Kicks Off What Apple Calls a 'New Era' for Siri

Enhancements from Apple Intelligence will make the assistant more powerful and personal.

Lisa Lacy Lead AI Writer
Lisa joined CNET after more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. Career highlights include a 2020 story about problematic brand mascots, which preceded historic name changes, and going viral in 2021 after daring to ask, "Why are cans of cranberry sauce labeled upside-down?" She has interviewed celebrities like Serena Williams, Brian Cox and Tracee Ellis Ross. Anna Kendrick said her name sounds like a character from Beverly Hills, 90210. Rick Astley asked if she knew what Rickrolling was. She lives outside Atlanta with her son, two golden retrievers and two cats.
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Lisa Lacy
3 min read
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Apple on Monday announced at its WWDC annual developer conference that its 13-year-old chatbot, Siri, is getting an upgrade to become more natural, more contextually relevant and more personal.

These updates, also coming to iPads and Macs, are powered by Apple's long-awaited AI, which the company is branding Apple Intelligence and which it also debuted at WWDC.

Apple fans hoping to see Siri make a comeback at the event hopefully got what they wanted. The chatbot in recent years has been overshadowed by newer models like ChatGPT, which kicked off the generative AI frenzy in late 2022. Competitors like Google, Microsoft and OpenAI have spent the last year fine-tuning their chatbots as they vie for market share, but, until now, Apple has been noticeably absent from the fray.

When Apple Intelligence becomes available, you'll notice one big change with Siri right off the bat. Instead of seeing a small logo pop up on your screen when you say, "Hey Siri," you'll see a glowing light around your entire screen.

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Apple also said you'll be able to speak to Siri more naturally thanks to "richer language understanding capabilities." That means if you misspeak — say, you ask for the weather at one location and then correct yourself because you actually want the weather somewhere else — Siri will understand and provide the information you're looking for.

The assistant will also maintain context within conversations, so it can create a related event for your earlier weather query and pull in the location to boot.

And for all those times you don't want to speak to Siri out loud, you can type to Siri by double-tapping the bottom of the screen.

Over the course of the next year, Apple will roll out additional features, which it says will "feel seamlessly integrated with your workflow."

Watch this: Apple Redesigns Siri With AI and Glowing Borders

That includes onscreen awareness, which means Siri can understand what's on your screen and take action, like requesting it add a new address to a contact when that person texts you said address.

Siri will also be able to take actions inside apps on your behalf thanks to new orchestration capabilities from Apple Intelligence. So, for example, you can ask for photos of a friend in a certain location and then ask Siri to add one particular photo to a note, which means navigating both the Photos and the Notes apps.

"Siri will be able to understand and take more actions in more apps over time," Kelsey Peterson, Apple's head of AI and machine learning, said at the event.

Another Siri improvement tied to Apple Intelligence is awareness of personal context, including photos, calendar events, files, messages and emails. You can ask Siri for information from an email, text or shared note — or for your driver's license number (if you have a photo of your driver's license on your machine).

If your mother is flying in for a visit, you can ask Siri for up-to-date flight details from your email and then, from your texts, for the name of the restaurant where she wants to go to lunch, and then how long it will take to get there from the airport.

"I haven't had to jump from mail to messages to maps to figure out this plan," Peterson said. "And instead of tasks that would have taken minutes on my own, and honestly probably would have resulted in a call to my mom, could be addressed in a matter of seconds."

Peterson added that the privacy protections in Apple Intelligence mean your data is safe.

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