Siri Will Soon Work with Spotify and Other Media Streaming Apps
Apple is including Siri support for third-party music and media apps in the upcoming iOS 13. The new developer tool, SiriKit for Audio, opens the door for iOS audio app developers to integrate Siri’s search and play operations into their next updates.
Siri’s capabilities are currently limited in third-party apps. Apple only allows them to offer 10 types of activities, known as domains. These domains, which include tasks such as sending messages and payments, making calls, and operating a car’s locks, have left a lot of app developers without a way to offer voice control to users. So, Siri can find and play music and other audio tracks, but only within apps developed by Apple. The voice assistant can still open and play or pause a third-party audio app, but that has been the extent of its capabilities until the latest news.
There were plenty of rumors ahead of WWDC that Apple was planning on extending the list of domains. But, while CEO Tim Cook and his team of presenters didn’t explicitly describe SiriKit for Audio as a new domain, that’s exactly what it is. Why Apple chose not to frame the new tool as a domain isn’t clear. Apple may have other plans for a separate domain announcement, especially since one new domain falls far short of speculation that Apple might double the number of domains. Apple is apparently interested in making its ecosystem more flexible with new features like an Apple Watch-specific app store/ However, the lack of an OS explicitly for Siri still maintains a barrier for developers interested in voice features for their creations.
Even as the only new domain, media playback is an important development for Apple’s voice assistant. Siri’s imposed limitations are one reason audio streaming app Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission about Apple in March. Spotify claimed that limiting the kinds of apps Siri supports is one way Apple uses control of the iOS to stifle competition.
Apple’s tight grip on where and how Siri is integrated may also be why third-party iOS apps using Siri are scarce compared to the more than 90,000 Alexa skills and 4,000 third-party Actions developed for Google Assistant. On top of that, Google also unveiled a whole new set of domains at I/O, rolling out its integration of its voice assistant into navigation app Waze just this week.
Apple may not continue to hold Siri back from third-party developers forever, but they may not roll out for at least a few months. Any new domains will likely not be announced until the company’s big hardware event in the fall at the earliest.