Apple races to add AI capabilities to Xcode and Spotlight | Technology News

Apple is working on major updates to its Xcode programming software that will integrate new AI capabilities to compete with Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot, according to a Bloomberg report which cited people familiar with the plans.

The new version of Xcode, slated for release later this year, will feature AI code completion tools that suggest full blocks of code to simplify and speed up programming – similar to the technology in GitHub Copilot. Apple engineers are already dogfooding early versions of the AI coding assistant to prepare it for third-party developers.

The AI coding features are part of Apple’s broader push into generative AI and large language models that has ramped up over the past year. The company is racing to add new AI capabilities across its products and services to catch up to peers like Microsoft and Google.

At its annual developers conference in June, Apple plans to outline ambitions to integrate more AI technology. Both the upcoming iOS 18 and macOS updates, codenamed Crystal and Glow, will introduce various AI-powered features.

For iOS 18, Apple is aiming to tout the software as one of the most significant iPhone updates ever. The update is likely to include AI features that automate mundane programming tasks like generating test code.

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The company has explored AI tools to automatically generate Apple Music playlists based on listener preferences and create dynamic slideshow presentations in Keynote, its PowerPoint alternative.

Another major AI overhaul in the works is an update to Spotlight systemwide search. The current Spotlight feature mainly serves to launch apps and look up basic information like weather and sports scores.

The updated Spotlight aims to understand and answer more complex search queries by tapping into on-device data and AI models. Early designs show Spotlight results responding to natural language questions and surfacing specific information and functions from apps.

By leveraging large language models trained on vast datasets, the AI-enhanced Spotlight could become a more versatile search tool for surface relevant content and actions across Apple devices.

The flurry of AI activity is being driven from the top down. Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, has reportedly urged teams to build as many AI capabilities as possible into 2024 software updates.

With Microsoft, Google and others moving quickly on large language models and generative AI, Apple is feeling the pressure to catch up in areas like intelligent search, content creation, programming assistants and personalisation.

Though details remain limited, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will offer the first glimpse into its AI vision.

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First uploaded on: 16-02-2024 at 18:37 IST