Amazon’s Alexa has been conjuring up quite a storm with the large set of features it offers and the number of third-party apps that can be used via it. Looking at this development (or maybe not), Apple is making its own set of announcements regarding a new and better Siri. The company today started previewing some of the first apps that will integrate with Siri in the upcoming release of iOS 10.
Apple had first announced this feature that would allow users to interact with apps via Siri at its WWDC this year. The company had announced that apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Slack, Uber, Lyft, Didi, EyeEm, Pinterest, Runtastic, RunKeeper, Venmo, Number26, Skype and Viber would soon allow you to talk to them. Now, apparently, many of these apps will bring in Siri-integration once iOS 10 is out.
The Cupertino giant had also said that a number of other apps including Skype, LinkedIn, Square Cash, Monzo, Vogue Runway, Looklive, The Roll and Pikazo will also take full advantage of Siri.
This means that once the new feature is out, you will be able to talk to your apps directly. No robotic commands, no hard to remember phrases.
Currently, the Apple App Store is home to over 2 million apps across 25 categories. This has made app discovery next to impossible. We download only the apps we’re exposed to and then chuck them, too. This is almost nothing compared to the growth of Apple’s developer community.
Voice-powered apps could be just the spark that devs need to make their apps stand out. Users won’t have to navigate through hard menus and settings to make apps work. They can simply sit down and have a nice chat with the software itself.
All this is going to be possible only because of Apple’s new development kit called SiriKit. This new toolkit allows iOS 10 developers to build in an extension into their app that communicates with the virtual assistant Siri. Instead of your touchscreen, Siri will handle the user interaction part. This means you can talk to the apps the same way you talk to Siri. The service will then use voice and natural language recognition to interpret what the user wants and gets the info to the app itself.
The company has today started circling out a series of blog posts that will introduce the forthcoming Siri-powered applications, and explain how they work. This is off-tradition for the tech giant which normally first makes developer-related announcements at WWDC. This is then followed by a global release of its new mobile OS in the fall.
The company today showed off a handful of apps that work with Siri, the most notable of them were Ride-hailing apps and third-party VoIP services.
Call Siri for a ride
Apple’s Siri integration is going to take root into many of the major ride-hailing services of this time. Uber, Lyft, China’s Didi Chuxing and Europe’s myTaxi will all soon allow users to simply call a ride like you call for a taxi.
Apple says that voice commands get as simple as they may. You will just have to say stuff like “Hey Siri, get me a DiDi ride to the airport,” or “Hey Siri, ask myTaxi to get me a taxi to Parliament Square,” and your device will do the rest.
According to the company, services offer multi-tier facilities (like Uber) will bring up available options as well as a fare estimate and ETA when commanded. Uber will also provide the location of the car in real-time, thanks to Uber’s MapKit, along with driver and vehicle information.
The feature took months to integrate into the app, according to Rahul Bijor, Senior Product Manager at Uber. And surely other developers will feel the heat once the kit is out in the open.
Siri and VoIP
Cisco’s Spark is now going to turn even more appealing. It’s latest version will allow users to command the app into making calls and doing all sorts of stuff, all thanks to SiriKit.
Apple says that Spark’s overall functionality completely depends on SiriKit and CallKit that work together to pass the contact information to Spark and launch the call. Taking it to another level, in case Spark doesn’t have the contact information, it can search iOS contacts for what it needs, then make the call.
“Spark was built specifically for the mobile user—it’s all about making sure users on the go can connect from wherever they are, so integration with Siri is a natural fit,”
explains Riley Marsh, Spark’s iOS lead developer.
“We prioritized the implementation so users can get their calls started by just using their voice—they can call any contact – personal or corporate directory contact – from one screen view.”
Other VoIP providers like Vonage Essentials are also working on similar services. The company’s VP Mobile Development for Vonage, Sagi Dudai said that they are also working on allowing Siri to access corporate backend data.