I Only Want Apple’s AI Overhaul To Do One Thing — Fix iMessage

Apple has a lot of plans for AI at WWDC, but I just want something practical.

The iPhone 15 showing a home screen with apps.
Photograph by Raymond Wong

AI is coming for iOS — and soon. WWDC is right around the corner and, if frequent Apple leaker Mark Gurman can be trusted (I believe he can) Apple is going to finally hop on the AI hype train with lots of new generative features for the iPhone.

According to Gurman, AI could do a lot inside iOS; summarize web pages and emails, create emojis, catch you up on missed notifications, draft responses, and supercharge Siri with more sophisticated multi-step prompts and deeper integration with everything you do on your phone.

Interesting! I think AI, in theory, has a lot to offer the smartphone experience, so I eagerly await finding out just what Apple has in store. But if I’m being honest, I don’t care as much about those features in the right here and right now. My wishlist for Apple’s big AI splash is simple. It’s practical; it’s... a much better iMessage.

Hey Siri: Fix My Damn Text Message

We’re still early on in the evolution of large language models (LLMs) like those that power ChatGPT, but if there’s one thing they seem to do well, it’s produce natural language — in some ways, that’s the only reason we’re throwing out terms like “artificial general intelligence” in the first place. AI chatbots are good at making us believe they’re sentient because they mimic language so well.

That makes them a good fit for generative applications like those being pushed by Microsoft’s Copilot or Google’s Gemini — think drafting email responses or helping voice assistants feel more natural. It also makes them a perfect fit for iMessage, which is ideal because Apple’s Android-hating proprietary text messaging app really needs it.

I revise enough words for a living, I don’t want to edit my phone, too.

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Apple has made overtures about improving iMessage over the years, claiming to upgrade predictive texts and autocorrect, but I still find messaging one of the most frustrating parts of my Apple-made phone experience.

Maybe, from a purely fine motor perspective, I’m a terrible texter — okay, let’s just say I am a terrible texter — but the fact remains; my day-to-day experience of using iMessage is rocky. I’m constantly typing and re-typing messages; getting caught up in trying to revise words over and over; and predictive texting, though much improved over the years, still feels like playing hangman. Spoiler alert: Neither I nor the AI really wins the game.

That experience isn’t something you can easily shake off, either. iMessage is core to the iOS experience. It is, for most people, one of the biggest, if not the only, reason they use an iPhone and not an Android device in the first place. Given those stakes, vastly improving iMessage, and the iOS keyboard, in general, would be like giving people a whole new phone. A “better iMessage” may sound like a small headline in the grand ambitions of AI, but it’s a huge opportunity for Apple and everyone who’s stuck painstakingly revising texts until they cry, pining for the glory days of T9.

Apple AI Should Go Big On Basics

Maybe you love iMessage and feel no palpable need for an improved experience, but if I were a betting man, I’d wager that many people reading this share my experience. That’s annoying, obviously, but on the bright side, it feels like we now have the tech to make that experience better.

Using advanced AI to edit the ever-loving crap out of your pictures Google Pixel-style is interesting, but does it really improve your day-to-day experience of using your phone? Methinks not. Maybe the secret to smartphone AI isn’t being flashy, maybe it’s being functional — maybe it’s AI iMessage.

I don’t know what form that could or should take necessarily; auto-generating text messages or just figuring out my thumb garble more quickly and accurately. Alternatively, Apple could harness AI to really understand the way I type or the words I use to better suggest, correct, or even generate my style of writing. Samsung is already doing this with its AI keyboard on the S24, so the idea here isn’t at all unprecedented.

Ultimately, that’s for Apple to figure out. All I know is that sometimes the best way to make something better is the most obvious. Here’s to hoping Apple receives that message.

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