You Can Use Siri to Make Google Voice Calls, But Not Google Assistant
The latest iOS update adds Google Voice to Siri’s list of recognized apps. iPhone and iPad users can now ask Apple’s voice assistant to call or send messages via the Google communication app.
Google Calls by Apple
Using Google Voice with Siri works basically the same as making any other calls or messages with the voice assistant. The only difference is the need to specify that the call or message should be made with Google Voice. To set it up, you need to change the settings on an iOS app so that Google Voice allows activation by Siri. If you have more than one Google Voice account you have to set a default Google account for the app or Siri won’t be able to send messages or make calls. Google Voice will still be free if you use Siri, except for the international call fee.
While Siri is integrating Google Voice, there is one glaring gap in Google Voice’s capabilities. Google Assistant can’t make calls or send messages through Google Voice. That the company’s own voice assistant can’t interact with its own messaging app stands out as unusual. Google didn’t mention whether that would be changing when discussing updates for Google Assistant at the Made by Google event this week.
Siri Making Friends
Openness to third-party apps is a relatively new aspect of Siri, but Google Voice isn’t the first Google app that Siri can run. Siri started supporting Google Assistant a year ago and added Google Maps in September. At the beginning of October, Siri expanded again by allowing users to search for songs and playlists on Spotify.
Google Voice almost certainly used Apple’s CallKit to integrate with Siri. The integration makes Google Voice interact with iOS in the same way that Skype, WhatsApp, and other communication apps do. That means Siri will apply its machine learning capabilities to Google Voice calls and messages, so if you use Google Voice to always call or message a particular friend, Siri will eventually automatically start messages in Google Voice rather than switching to iMessage, even when you forget to say you want to use Google Voice. Siri will pick the service it defaults to based on the frequency with which an app is used to interact with a contact.
The new Siri functions are part of Apple’s reaction to pressure by app developers who want to make the voice assistant a bigger part of their product. There’s no Siri OS, which means there’s a limit to the way developers can include voice controls without Apple’s direct intervention. Siri’s library is therefore far smaller than Alexa’s more than 100,000 skills and Google Assistant’s 4,000 third-party Actions. On the other hand, Siri did beat Google Assistant to incorporating Google Voice, an outlier that points to the still-evolving nature of the voice assistant landscape.