Here's how AI-created "smart replies" will make iOS Mail and Siri more useful

Here's how AI-created "smart replies" will make iOS Mail and Siri more useful
The days are few between now and Monday which is when Apple will preview the AI features that it is adding to iOS 18 this year in what has been tipped as the largest update in iOS history. According to AppleInsider, one of the apps that will get an AI makeover this year is the iOS Mail app. I remember when this was the app you needed to send and receive email on the original iPhone. But once the App Store opened for business and Google released the Gmail app, the iOS Mail app lost much of its usefulness.

Don't you love hearing the "swoosh" from Apple's native Mail app?

To be honest with you, I like to use the iOS Mail app to send emails because there is nothing more satisfying than pressing the send button and hearing that "swoosh" signifying that the mail has been sent. Today's report indicates that "Project BlackPearl" will be used to give iOS Mail a massive AI makeover in iOS 18. Search results in the AI-powered iOS Mail app will allow users to send "Smart Replies" to emails created by Apple's on-device Ajax LLM (Large Language Module).

Such a feature is a huge time saver and is perfect for companies that need to respond to huge amounts of customer emails. Using the "Smart Reply" feature, an answer is quickly generated on-device by AI and the user can even request that a response be created by AI using a more professional style. Besides Mail, "Smart Reply" is expected to be available to Siri and Messages users.

Using "Smart Reply" will allow an iPhone user to adjust the tone of responses using other options besides making them sound more professional. These emails could be re-written by AI to sound more friendly, or written to be more easily understood by the targeted recipient.

Project BlackPearl will also allow emails to be placed in categories based on the content of the email. Time-sensitive emails will also be identified. According to those familiar with Apple's plans, email will be classified and placed into a pre-defined category such as:

  • Commerce
  • News
  • Other
  • Promotions
  • Social
  • Transaction
These categories could be used by Siri to help the virtual assistant identify different types of email. One new feature that I'm looking forward to will allow Siri to summarize emails, email threads, and certain types of text.

AppleInsider says that it has learned from those familiar with the matter that in iOS 18 and macOS 15, the following kinds of text-based content can be summarized:

  • Emails and email threads
  • Messages
  • Notifications and notification stacks
  • Notes
  • Posts
  • User-provided texts and news articles
The new AI initiative will allow the iOS apps that provide summaries to create different types such as:

  • Topic-level summaries - with just three topic words, this summary will provide the key concepts of a text.
  • 10 or 20-word summaries that use clauses instead of full sentences.
  • Paragraph-level summaries - brief and to the point, a three-sentence paragraph, containing no more than 60 words, reveals the major point of a text.
While Apple's Ajax LLM could handle these summaries, Apple might rely on its AI partnership with OpenAI to handle more advanced summarization.

Siri will look completely different once iOS 18 is released

Apple's plan to make its AI summaries useful is to have AI act as an expert with the main goal of helping users of Apple's operating system understand text. This would seem to mean that virtual digital assistant Siri will certainly look completely different when iOS 18 is released thanks to the addition of LLM capabilities.

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The Photos app will work with Siri to enhance images, find certain photos, and display them. With the Notes app, Siri will be able to open and analyze certain documents, analyze them, and share them via the Messages app.

And with AI, Apple's software will be able to create and edit images. Such images will include:

  • Animation
  • Emoji
  • Illustration
  • Line Art
  • Sketch
Recently we told you that AI will allow devices running iOS 18 to create Emoji on the fly based on contextual clues.

All the fun will begin this Monday, June 10th, starting with the WWDC 2024 Keynote which begins at 10 am PDT/1 pm EDT. Check out PhoneArena throughout the day for the latest news and analysis about Apple's WWDC announcements.

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