July 23, 2024

We Need “AGI” More than Apple Intelligence!

© 2000 Gary Stager

I’m a forty-year Apple customer, stockholder, and influencer with the receipts for a few hundred million dollars in Apple sales to schools. On more than one occasion, I have been chastised for my fondness for Apple hardware. I have a personal landfill dedicated to discarded Apple hardware. That said, I find today’s announcements about Apple’s embrace of AI to be both underwhelming and wrongheaded.

Apple’s Glossy Keynote announcing Apple Intelligence

Apple’s AI announcements today are cute and undoubtedly useful, but they neither solve existing problems or provide the functionality that is acutely needed. Although it seems as if Apple is less and less interested in the Macintosh, creation, and computing, these remain my focus. I imagine there are others who also use Mac computers to get work done. We can all live without Genmojis.

The iPad, iPhone, and Watch are lovely – I use all of them daily. However, the secret sauce is on the computing side.

Mr. Cook, we desperately need A.G.I. Apple Grownup Intelligence.

Anyone who can remember when iMovie was once usable or iTunes made sense, knows that critical computing apps like Contacts, Calendar, and Music are a shitshow. Media files disappear or are moved with each OS upgrade. While we’re at it, why did Apple get rid of ducking in Garageband and iMovie?

Siri has always been terrible and one of the great mysteries of the universe is why Apple seemingly made no attempts to improve it. At times, Siri had more power than it does today. Once upon a time, Siri used Wolfram Alpha to provide accurate responses to prompts like, “Solve 3X + 7 = Y.” But alas, no more.  (Incidentally, OpenAI is just as mercurial and seems to share Apple’s disinterest in quality assurance and customer support.)

Apple Grownup Intelligence would focus on the operating system and solve problems such as the following:

  • Repair my Contacts file so I do not have 7,000 copies of the same person. Perhaps Contacts could do a better job of keeping track of active, dormant, and dead contacts.
  • Siri would be able to answer questions as simple as “What time is my flight?”
  • Spotlight would be a lot more powerful and “intelligent,” so it’s easier to locate files.
  • The OS should alert me when I have duplicate files consuming drive space and ask me what to do with files that are similar. For example, “What would you like me to do with those 57 versions of X document?”
  • I should not need to purchase a half dozen programs to clean up my hard drive, backup files, remove duplicates, or find giant files. An “intelligent” OS should perform all of these tasks and do so in assistive fashion.
  • Preview would natively open the DNG files created by the iPhone.
  • Automatically back up specific files or types of files to local or remote drives.
  • Photos should finally orient images properly (as promised).
  • Mail should do a better job of organizing messages automatically. Not everything is great or spam. There should be a better way of storing and retrieving old Mail messages by category, date, or other attributes on external and online drives.
  • Keychain Access should work across more apps.
  • Home would be a hell of a lot more intuitive for use with HomeKit devices and I would know where security camera video is stored.
    Apple Music would show users the original record a track is from, not a schlocky anthology.
  • Apple Music should be able to tell you the musicians on a recording. (This data is available)
  • Apple Music should actually be able to find album art and use simple “intelligence” to guess matches with imprecise clues or spelling. It could ask me which one is best and “learn.”
  • When I manually enter musician names into thousands of recordings I ripped, I should be able to ask Siri to play tracks with one or more of those performers.
  • We should finally be able to “teach” the OS to perform multi-step tasks like they have promised for years in dubious apps, like Automator.

I could go on…

Here’s some more unsolicited advice for Tim Cook

In 1987, Apple CEO John Sculley was nearly laughed out of Silicon Valley for working with people like Alan Kay on the Knowledge Navigator video. Watch the “ancient” video (below), think about the current state of generative AI, and then explain to me why Apple doesn’t just make the Knowledge Navigator its top product priority.

Apple needs to resurrect HyperCard for the iPad, the freakin’ hardware built for the software that preceded it.

Apple needs to get over itself and allow mortals to program their own apps with tools like MIT App Inventor.

It would also be nice if Apple read and responded to their user forums. Reporting bugs is like screaming down a well. At the very least, it would be courteous for the company to acknowledge a problem or report that the issue had been resolved.