Gurman’s Epic Pre-WWDC Leak Report

More regarding Gurman’s Friday-before-WWDC report at Bloomberg. But before I start quoting, man, his report reads as though he’s gotten the notes from someone who’s already watched Monday’s keynote. I sort of think that’s what happened, given how much of this no one had reported before today. Bloomberg’s headline even boldly asserts “Here’s Everything Apple Plans to Show at Its AI-Focused WWDC Event”. I’m only aware of one feature for one platform that isn’t in his report, but it’s not a jaw-dropper, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was simply beneath his threshold for newsworthiness. Look, I’m in the Apple media racket, so I know my inside-baseball obsessions are unusual, but despite all the intriguing nuggets Gurman drops in this piece, the thing I’m most insatiably curious about is how he got all this. Who spilled? By what means? It’s extraordinary. And don’t think for a second it’s a deliberate leak. Folks inside Apple are, I assure you, furious about this, and incredulous that one of their own colleagues would leak it to Gurman.

So: don’t follow the link to Bloomberg and don’t continue reading this post if you don’t want to see a bunch of spoilers, several of which weren’t even rumored until Gurman dropped this. It’s astonishing how much of what we supposedly know about Apple’s WWDC keynote announcements is entirely from Gurman. If he switched to a different beat we’d be almost entirely in the dark; as it stands, he’s seemingly spoiled most of what’s coming Monday.

First, he says yes, Apple’s going to do a chatbot, powered by OpenAI:

The company’s new AI system will be called Apple Intelligence, and it will come to new versions of the iPhone, iPad and Mac operating systems, according to people familiar with the plans. There also will be a partnership with OpenAI that powers a ChatGPT-like chatbot. And the tech giant is preparing to show new software for the Vision Pro headset, Apple Watch and TV platforms.

A question Gurman’s report doesn’t answer is where this chatbot will be. Is it going to be a new app — a dedicated AI chatbot app? What would that app be called? “Siri”? Or will it live within Spotlight, a system-level UI you dip in and out of temporarily, not an app? Spotlight works today because you more or less can only ask one thing at a time; a chat app is something with persistence, that you can Command-Tab to and from.

Or would Apple make Siri a persona you can chat with in Messages? I don’t think Apple would put it in Messages, but if they do, will we be able to include it in group chats? That seems like fun on the surface (and it is, in Wavelength) but a privacy problem on deeper thought. When I’m talking to Siri one-on-one I expect Siri to know about me. If Siri/Apple AI/whatever-it’s-going-to-be-called were in a group Messages chat it would have to be private, which would make it a different Siri/Apple AI/whatever than you get in a one-on-one context.

There are a lot of questions even if the answer is that it’s a new standalone app. Will the conversations sync between devices? If so, how does that jibe with on-device processing? If I start a chatbot conversation on my Mac can I continue it on my iPhone? How does that work if the conversation pertains to, say, files or data that’s only on my Mac? Or vice-versa, if it pertains to content in an app that’s only on my iPhone? On-device processing raises questions that don’t exist with cloud-only processing.

Also makes me wonder what the point of an OpenAI-powered Apple chatbot is when OpenAI makes very good ChatGPT apps for both iOS and Mac. Their new Mac app is quite sweet — written in AppKit and SwiftUI, not some turd of a web wrapper like most such AI chatbots.

One feature that will likely get a lot of attention among Gen Z — and perhaps the rest of the population — will be AI-created emoji. This will use AI to create custom emoji characters on the fly that represent phrases or words as they’re being typed. That means there will be many more options than the ones in the standardized emoji library that has long been built into the iPhone.

This sounds like Memoji, but for anything? Will it be exclusive to Messages or something system-wide, in the emoji picker?

The Messages app is getting some non-AI tweaks, including a change to the effects feature — the thing that lets you send fireworks and other visual elements to the people you’re texting. Users will now be able to trigger an effect with individual words, rather than the entire message. There will be new colorful icons for Tapbacks, which let you quickly respond to a message with a heart, exclamation point or other character (they’re currently gray). And users will have the ability to Tapback a message with any emoji. There’s another frequently requested feature coming as well: the ability to schedule a message to be sent later.

Not sure what the difference is between “colorful Tapbacks” and “Tapback a message with any emoji”, but this one gets a legit finally.

Safari in macOS 15, codenamed Glow, is getting some changes, but it seems unlikely that Apple is going to unveil its own ad blocker — something that’s been reported as a possibility. Advertisers already pushed back heavily against Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, or ATT, in iOS 14 a few years ago, and the company doesn’t need another privacy-related headache.

Built-in ad blocking in Safari wouldn’t be a privacy headache; blocking ads can only increase privacy. It would be an antitrust/regulatory headache. The argument from ATT opponents is that it steers advertisers toward purchasing ads in the App Store, where the ATT rules don’t apply. Apple doesn’t track what users do within apps, of course — which is the legitimate privacy issue ATT attempts to address — but as the operator of the App Store, it does know which apps a user owns and uses. So Apple can, say, recommend game C because you play games A and B, even if A, B, and C all come from different developers.