Apple to showcase updated Siri at annual software conference: report

Apple will showcase an upgrade to Siri's capabilities as it kicks off its annual software conference. The timing seems particularly apt for the company, with sales of its flagship iPhone slowing, and artificial intelligence (AI) emerging as a key tech battleground.

Apple, Google, Facebook and others are racing to create digital services that consumers would find indispensable for shopping, chatting, controlling their appliances and simply getting through their daily lives.

Siri got a big thumbs up when the digital assistant debuted on the iPhone five years ago. However, ''chat bots'' and voice-controlled systems capable of more home challenging artificial-intelligence feats, seem to have stolen a march over Siri. Though Apple had added new abilities to Siri over the years, some experts believed Apple still lagged in the AI race, hurt partly by its unwillingness to pry too deeply users' personal information. ''Google Now has kind of eaten their lunch,'' said Chris Monberg, co-founder of Boomtrain, a startup that makes artificial intelligence software used by online retailers, AP reported. According to Monberg Google's proactive digital assistant provided more useful reminders, recommendations and tips on local weather or traffic, as it read his email and other data from his Android phone and crunched it with sophisticated algorithms on Google's powerful servers.

This year should see the tenth generation of iPhone, although rumours still point to the introduction of iPhone 7 in September. Though this looked like a huge missed opportunity, according to commentators, regularity in introducing a new physical form factor every two years-with the year in-between focusing on internal advancements is no longer required.

They point out that Apple did not need to dramatically change the physical shape of iPhones every set number of years and the current form factor might be ideal to stick with for longer than in the past.