Developers are looking for creative ways to build AI-powered chatbot assistants

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Since OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT last year, it’s almost impossible to go a day without a company or developer releasing an AI-powered tool. Now, with the release of new models like OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Anthroipic’s Claude, more app makers are trying out tools that are more accessible and useful to people.

Some apps offer a native mobile or desktop experience that allows people to talk to AI-powered chatbots outside of the web browser. Their core idea is to make money by unlocking unlimited access to these bots and giving users ideas quickly.

However, some developers want to take it a step further and are working on better integration of their apps with the system. There have been a few attempts to make these apps compatible with Siri via shortcuts. So users can ask questions to ChatGPT (or any other model) via voice or even text. This gives them an advantage in cases where Siri can’t understand a user’s question, they can just use the keyboard to type a question for the AI-powered bot.

An example is Short Circuit, an app developed by Joe Fabisevich, a former Twitter employee turned indie developer. The app lets you chat with a bot called Shorty. It comes with suggestions for exercise plans, meal plans, writing funny songs and discovering fun facts about a topic. You can also use the “Hey Siri, Hey Shorty” command to ask questions using your voice.

Fabisevich said the tools helped him write an App Store description, brainstorm suggestions for App Store optimization, and write app purchase code. He added that the development team behind Short Circuit is exploring ways to integrate the app with all kinds of automation using Shortcuts.

Image Credits: Short circuit

The folks at MacStories have gone a step further by developing a shortcut called S-GPT, which is integrated into many parts of macOS and iOS.

The tool can summarize a web page shared through the Safari share sheet; it can help with time management to understand which days you have a packed schedule; check the text on your clipboard for grammatical errors; and offer to open links of ChatGPT’s answer in multiple Safari tabs.

Image Credits: S-GPT/MacStories

But the feature that stands out the most for its fun factor is that you can ask S-GPT to create a playlist based on a prompt. For example, if you ask “Make me a playlist of 15 rock songs from the early 2000s”, this list will be stored in Apple Music. Tools like PlaylistAI have released features like prompt playlist generation for Spotify. But S-GPT’s effort feels more integrated since it uses Apple Music.

MacStories’ Federico Viticci mentions that you can also enter complex searches, such as “Create me a playlist of 25 soft indie rock songs released between 2000 and 2010 and sort them by year of release, from oldest to most recent.”

Image Credits: S-GPT/MacStories

Developers also claim that S-GPT is better than Siri when it comes to back-and-forth calls. That’s because the tool prompts you to ask follow-up questions if you want. In some cases, having a visual prompt helps, as Siri often forgets the context of the conversation.

Both S-GPT and Short Circuit developers mention that Siri often reads long text from a source like Wikipedia, which can be annoying. They claim it’s easier to read slightly longer text on the screen.

GPT-powered models are more useful than Siri in cases where they need to generate text, summarize text, and present more information on the topic from multiple sources. Fabisevich said over email that the best benefit of these large language models is that they reduce the “loop of going through multiple Google searches.”

He said Short Circuit users have found use cases ranging from meal planning to finding more information about a bird while birdwatching, coding problems and generating Dungeons & Dragons stories.

However, when it comes to finding out facts, such as tomorrow’s weather conditions or the score of the last game, Siri (or an equivalent assistant) is still superior. Fabisevich said that’s why there’s a fact-check button in the app, which takes you to the Google search results page with the answer as a question.

“I still don’t trust the results ChatGPT gives me and find myself checking information that seems counterintuitive or suspicious. Sometimes my intuition is wrong and ChatGPT is right, but this skepticism led me to build in a fact-checking feature Short circuit. Even though GPT-4 is better with hallucination, I still think hallucination is going to be a big problem for large language models,” he said.

Even Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s Bard often fail when asked about current events or historical events. So in that regard, current generation AI assistants on phones are less prone to spreading misinformation as they would just lead you to a web search if they don’t know anything about a topic. The AI ​​chatbots also lack speed as they have to query a server (like OpenAI) to get answers to a question.

This first wave of GPT-powered bots isn’t exactly trying to replace Siri. But they try to make life easier when it comes to asking for suggestions or ideas. Apart from the mentioned, tools like AnyGPT and MacGPT make it easier to easily access ChatGPT on Mac, but don’t offer things like voice command integration.

As both Google and Apple hold their annual developer conferences in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how they update their assistants. Multiple teams at Apple, including the one that handles Siri, have reportedly been experimenting with major language models.

At the same time, developers hope to gain access to more system-level automation to leverage these large language models. Recent multi-company analysis suggests that both downloads and consumer spending for AI-powered apps have skyrocketed in recent months. So developers would like to take advantage of this wave of generative AI.

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