Apple Expands Siri Features for iOS 15
Apple has released the new iOS 15 for iPhones and iPads, adding a host of updates and new tools and capabilities to the devices. The newest iteration of the mobile operating system comes with several changes to the Siri voice assistant designed around making it more efficient and upping its privacy settings for users. The rollout comes as Apple recently added new Siri voices, and the company has been running a quiet study on Siri, looking for customer feedback to shape future features and improvements.
The updates for Siri largely build on what was previewed at WWDC earlier this year. One of the most notable changes is that Siri processes speech on the device without sending information to the cloud. The Apple Neural Engine lets Siri understand and respond to speech commands even when there isn’t access to the internet. That means requests for timers, phone calls, messages, audio playback, and launching apps can happen when in airplane mode or otherwise off the grid. The processing method also boosts privacy and speed of action by keeping the whole thing restricted to the device without recourse to digital servers.
The same goes for Siri’s machine learning. Over time the voice assistant will improve its speech recognition and understanding, learning things like new words, topics the user is interested in, and what contacts are most frequently spoken to by the user. The process never leaves the phone or tablet, keeping everything on the device. Siri has also been upgraded to better note and grasp the context surrounding any message or activity.
“Siri can now use onscreen context to send a message or place a call. For example, if you’re looking at a contact in the Contacts app, a conversation with someone in Messages, or a notification of a message or missed call from someone, you can say “Message them I’m on my way” and Siri will send it to the appropriate contact,” Apple explained in an announcement. “Siri is even better at maintaining context between requests, so you can conversationally refer to what you just asked. For example, after asking “Is Glacier National Park still open?” you could ask “How long does it take to get there?” and Siri will make the connection.”
Language and Announcements
Some of the updates for Siri just extend where some of its features appear. For instance, time-sensitive announcements can now be set to share notifications through AirPods, and Siri can access CarPlay to announce and read messages for those who want to hear them while driving. And as revealed at WWDC, third-party devices will be able to start integrating Siri, allowing any HomeKit accessory manufacturer to add Siri to their products with Apple’s approval.
The other big addition for voice and AI is the breadth of languages devices can communicate in with owners. And voice control has opened up to let users control the device when speaking Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, French, and German. Siri’s speech recognition handles those commands. Meanwhile, Siri’s language library has expanded in India, where users can mix Indian English and any of nine regional languages, and Siri will understand. And the neural text-to-speech feature on the devices has added Scandinavia to its voices, with the addition of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish.