Skip to content

It’s time Apple got Siri-ous about responding to AI and chatbots

Siri was once a leader, but it’s now in danger of becoming an also-ran

First impressions aren’t everything. If you follow tech news, you might have heard Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Bing, went bonkers when launched in February. The thing lied a lot, tried to break up a journalist’s marriage, and had an existential crisis, before someone at Microsoft hit the BIG RED BUTTON and performed rapid tinkering.

Showing how fast this technology evolves, Bing is now saner and smarter. And Microsoft is determined to make Bing central to millions of people’s everyday computing. It announced this month that Bing has shifted from single-use chat sessions to multi-session context experiences. Which in non-geek means a whole bunch of things.

Bing can now assist with restaurant bookings, image searches, and helping you find shows to watch. With the last of those, it aims to get you in front of what you want to see more rapidly, automatically selecting a service and opening a site to play a movie. In the Edge browser, conversations with Bing can continue while you browse. And Microsoft adds it’s working with third parties, to expand what Bing can do by way of plug-ins.


All of which might make you ask: so what? This is an iPhone mag! Why are you talking about Bing? Mostly because this 2023 technology reminds me of where Siri started out. The original Siri demos show the aim with Siri was to help you blaze through tasks in context too, including things like restaurant bookings. It wasn’t as chatty as a modern chatbot, but it felt like the future.

13 years later, you have to wonder what happened. Apple bought Siri almost as soon as it was in the wild, and integrated it into iPhone 18 months later. But rather than Apple making good on the technology’s original promise, Siri has stagnated. It struggles with natural language. You have to be very specific to get a response, and even then there are many things Siri can’t understand and do that other virtual assistants have no trouble with – and where the new generation of chatbots go much further, not least in their ability to be conversational and help you rapidly refine a query.

That doesn’t mean Siri isn’t useful. It’s a great way to perform certain key tasks on your phone. And although it likely stymied Siri’s development, Apple’s stance on privacy is to be lauded. But Siri is isolated and increasingly looks comparatively basic. Here’s hoping Apple has a response at WWDC23, and unleashes a Siri that can do far more. Otherwise, we may end up in the absurd situation where people buy iPhones, but ignore Siri in favor of a new generation of assistive tech that can help you do more, faster.