How the New ChatGPT iPhone App Can Help You Get Stuff Done

Siri should be ashamed of itself

  • ChatGPT is available as an iPhone app.
  • You can ask the AI questions using voice.
  • Shortcuts is already available by other means. 
OpenAI's ChatGPT show on an iPhone screen.

Sanket Mishra / Unsplash

ChatGPT now comes as an iOS app, showing us the future of voice assistants.

ChatGPT, the large language model that is currently either destroying the world or making it a little bit more convenient (or both), is now an app. Instead of typing into a web browser, you can just launch the app and go. But how can it help you in your day-to-day life? And is it really any better than the web? 

"To me it's like a souped up search engine that neatly summarizes and collates the results, without having to wade through dozens of articles and all their accompanying fluff and ads, and without having to keep track of a zillion links and then to take notes and organize them. Of course I still have to validate the results just like anything else. But damn does it save time," iOS and ChatGPT user Wim said in an Audiobus forum thread participated in by Lifewire. 

ChatGPT App vs Using It on the Web

Because ChatGPT runs your queries on its own servers and not on your computer or your phone, the difference between a built-in app and a text box on a website is minimal.

"For now, the app for ChatGPT on iPhone is so basic that you might as well be using the website. Until there is a unique reason for downloading the app, it's just as easy to use the website right now," Kyle MacDonald, VP at mobile device deployment company Mojio, told Lifewire via email. 

To me it's like a souped up search engine that neatly summarizes and collates the results...

While it is possible to make compelling web apps, which have their own home-screen icon, and can even send you notifications, the reality is that native apps are usually fuller featured. And part of this is their integration with all of Apple's built-in technologies.

The most important iPhone feature, in the case of ChatGPT, is Shortcuts. Or would be—right now, it does not support them. Apple's Shortcuts is a toolkit for building all kinds of simple or complex and powerful automations.

For example, Shortcuts lets you make a shortcut that skips your podcast to the next chapter just by double-tapping the back of the phone. And I created a shortcut that listened to a folder full of hundreds of audio clips, recognized what people were saying, converted that to text, and used the text to name each file. 

Now, with this kind of power and flexibility, imagine the shortcuts you could build with ChatGPT. 

Someone holding a smartphone close to their mouth and speaking to a chatbot on the device, as indicated by a voice chatbot overlay.

jittawait.21 / Getty Images

Fortunately, you don't have to imagine it because the official app isn't the only way to use ChatGPT's AI engine on your iPhone. Maybe the most impressive so far is S-GPT, an amazing integration of Shortcuts and ChatGPT from shortcuts and iOS guru Federico Viticci.

"S-GPT comes with native system integrations on Apple platforms, including the ability to process text from your clipboard, summarize text found in photos, export conversations to Files and Finder, and even create playlists in the Music app," says Viticci on his Mac Stories blog

And yet, despite its basic integration, the ChatGPT app adds two convenient features. One is that it syncs your history across devices. The other is much more profound: voice. 

ChatGPT, but With Voice

If you've been reading about ChatGPT, you'll know that it can do pretty much anything regarding text and the creation thereof. Ask it to write you a report, create a packing list for your upcoming beach holiday, and so on. 

You will also be familiar with Siri, Apple's voice assistant, which can do pretty much nothing—not consistently, anyway.

Which is why ChatGPTs app is potentially so exciting. Imagine being able to talk to your phone, and have it actually understand you, and then act on whatever you asked it to do. And not only that, but the conversation could continue as you fine-tune the results instead of starting from scratch each time, like with Siri. 

The Hey Siri function activated on an iPhone.
Omid Armin / Unsplash.

In fact, speaking to an AI assistant like this seems like such an important feature that it should really be built in for privacy reasons. The welcome screen for the ChatGPT app warns you that the results can be inaccurate and that you should not share sensitive info with the app because "anonymized chats may be reviewed by our Al trainers to improve our systems." You must also provide a phone number to sign up for an account. 

Apple might be slow to the AI chatbot game, but at least when its effort finally arrives, you know it will not be sharing your data with anyone. Until then, ChatGPT looks very useful. Just be careful what you tell it. 

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