Siri Shortcuts and Suggestions Hope to Deliver More Useful Voice Assistant Features
Apple announced the new Siri Shortcuts and Suggestions features today at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Shortcuts is an attempt to make Siri more helpful as an assistant. You can assign a short phrase to a specific action or set of actions. For example, you could set a shortcut called, “time to go home” and when you say that phrase you can configure Siri to automatically pull up Apple Maps and start navigation. This extends the suggestions that you might see today based on how your use your mobile device each day. It is not clear whether this would extend to activating Waze, but it appears to be part of the iOS 12 feature set.
You can also build this into a routine or compound set of commands. The example provided by the Apple presenter suggested that “time to go home,” could bring up navigation, send a text message to someone about your estimated arrival time, set your home thermostat and start your favorite music all from one command.
Siri suggestions is based on your behavior and will provide options on screen that may be helpful such as logging into your upcoming conference call automatically or calling a relative on their birthday. We have seen this previously in individual apps such as Maps and annoyingly in iTunes / Apple Music. These are designed to be more holistic and were demonstrated for both iPhone and Apple Watch. The suggestions on Apple Watch will even identify an increase in physical activity and ask you if you would like to start a workout to record your efforts. This is not exactly a voice assistant breakthrough, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
Siri Gets an Expanded Definition if Not Footprint
The most interesting aspect of suggestions and notifications is the use of Siri nomenclature. In the past, Siri was only discussed related to voice interaction. However, suggestions and notifications both were referred to by Apple executives as Siri. There is a reclassification going on where assistant-like features are now falling under the Siri umbrella in order to change perception of Siri’s capabilities. These features are useful and a nice enhancement for iOS users, but it is unclear whether they are actually part of Siri or another machine learning service using the umbrella nomenclature.