Thursday, June 16, 2016


Andrew Cunningham (Hacker News):

Third parties can use Siri in six different kinds of apps, though those applications encompass a wide range of common and popular App Store offerings: audio and video calling apps; messaging apps; payment apps; apps that allow searching through photo libraries; workout apps; and ride booking apps.

That covers a lot of ground, but there’s a lot that’s missing: music and video apps like Spotify and Netflix, mapping apps like Google Maps, and third-party to-do list apps don’t fall under any of these umbrellas, possibly because they conflict too directly in some cases with Apple apps and services like Apple Maps and Apple Music (Apple Maps in particular is becoming more deeply integrated into the OS with every new update). Hopefully Siri will become more useful to a wider variety of apps later on, but for now the first-party apps are definitely still in a privileged position.

And Apple didn’t draw too much attention to it yesterday, but these Siri capabilities are only available in iOS 10, not in the newly Siri-fied macOS Sierra.

Clark Goble:

This is so inexplicable. Why can’t I pass a search to a weather app to see the weather for a city? Why can’t I start a podcast in a 3rd party podcast app like Downcast. (Honestly, that’s the time I’m using my phone in the car -- much more than sending SMS by voice) Why can’t I ask Daylite to dial a contact? Why can’t I get tomorrow weather for a city I’m traveling to from my weather app of choice?

Honestly the places they open are least useful to me.

Tim Schmitz:

Although I’m happy there’s finally a developer API for Siri, I’m disappointed that it’s limited to a fairly small set of applications for now. As a user, what I want most is for my favorite shopping and to-do list apps to get Siri integration, something that won’t be possible with what Apple announced today.

Husain Sumra:

When asked why Siri’s API is limited to certain kinds of apps, like ride-hailing services like Uber or messaging, Federighi and Schiller once again talked about Apple’s baseline philosophy. Federighi said the decision to go with those apps types was made because Siri largely understands the domains of messaging and requesting purchases, making it easier to give the keys to developers and ensure a great user experience. He also said that Apple is working to expand Siri’s familiarity with certain domains over time.

I think this is fundamentally the wrong approach. Imagine how useful AppleScript would be if you could only use Apple’s standard suites. Adoption and innovation would be greatly slowed, and lots of interesting things would never be possible. Amazon’s approach of letting Alexa Skills add their own terminology makes a lot more sense. I care much more about functionality and reliability than about having lots of variant, more natural syntaxes for the basic queries.

Secondly, I’m disappointed that there is still no easy way to simply save a bunch of dictated text as a reminder (to be imported into OmniFocus). Most of the time, this is all I want to do when hands-free. Instead, if I say “Remember to,” Siri will try to parse the following text and inevitably mess it up.

See also: WWDC Session 217: Introducing SiriKit.

Update (2016-06-16): Joe Rosensteel:

Limitations of SiriKit are baffling when you think about Siri’s universal search for media on the Apple TV.

Update (2016-07-17): Steven McMurray:

In this article we’ll dive deep into how Siri works, the fundamentals of implementing Siri, and how to design a great user experience with Apple’s own personal assistant.

Update (2016-07-18): Ruffin Bailey:

I understand that this allows us to skip translation, but is that really that big a deal? Smart folk are internationalizing (there’s a better word for that; sorry) their apps now, translating labels and other text throughout. I also get that Apple might do a better job with grammar, so that there are lots of ways to get across a command in natural speech rather than forcing a strange, app-specific grammar. I don’t feel that’s a big win.

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