Give Siri access to third-party apps, and (in time) much more

As “powerful as Siri is, I’d like to see it be able to do more – much, much more,” Ben Lovejoy writes for 9to5Mac. “My single biggest frustration with it right now is that I have all these apps on my phone that can answer lots of questions and do lots of things, but Siri has no access to most of them. If it’s an Apple app, no problem. I can ask Siri to send a text, remind me to buy milk when I pass my local shop, play some Anna Nalick, show me the photos I took yesterday and a lot more.”

“But what I can’t yet do is ask the time of my next train home, despite having an app on my phone that can answer that question,” Lovejoy writes. “I can’t ask it to show me today’s Timehop, nor can I ask it to post that to Facebook. I can’t ask it to post something to a Hipchat or Slack chatroom. I can’t ask it to call an Uber car. I can’t ask it to translate ‘Where is the nearest pharmacy’ into Mandarin.”

“An API that allows third-party apps to interface with Siri seems, at first glance, a small thing to ask,” Lovejoy writes. “But I recognize that the reality is very different. What I’m asking for here is non-trivial.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s webpage lists all of the things Siri can do, stating:

Talk to Siri as you would to a friend and it can help you get things done — like sending messages, placing calls, and making dinner reservations. You can ask Siri to show you the Orion constellation or to flip a coin. Siri works hands-free, so you can ask it to show you the best route home and what your ETA is while driving. It works with HomeKit to let your voice be the remote control for connected products in your home. And it’s tuned in to the world, working with Wikipedia, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, Shazam, and other online services to get you even more answers. The more you use Siri, the more you’ll realize how great it is. And just how much it can do for you.

Find out how powerful Siri actually is here: http://www.apple.com/ios/siri/

15 Comments

  1. I think the problem will be that unless you have to prefix every command with a particular app you will potentially have multiple apps competing to respond to a command. Managing what apps then get to deal with what command could become annoying. I suppose it’s the same as what apps handle links, but more.

    1. The way i invision it is to have siri work in the following way.

      Basically two modes of search. Local and universal.

      When on root menu of apple tv:
      If no app is named or the word appletv is used it will be a universal search.
      If an app is named.. It will be a local search in the app named.

      Example:
      Siri find my comedy… Searchs everywhere
      Siri find me comedy on appletv…. Searches everywhere
      Siri find me comedy on netflix… Searches netflix only

      If inside an app:
      Default is local search
      If another app name is used .. Search looks for results in the other app.
      If the word AppleTv is used in querry… It looks everywere on appletv

      Example we are in Netflix App:
      Siri search for comedy … Searches netflix..
      Siri search for comedy in Hulu…. Localizes search to hulu but does not leave the app netflix.. Just shows results.
      Siri search for comedy on apple tv… Searches everywhere but does no leave the App.

      To enhance or as a backup to siri searches … Allow dictation on search pages in all apps .. So i dont have to enter text .

  2. We need a simple programming tool for Siri. That would make third party apps more usable and it would reduce the irritation factor… For instance, ask Siri for your eta while driving and she will tell you in elapsed time. That drives me nuts – I wear glasses for reading but not for driving – which means I can’t read the tiny clock on the dash. If I don’t know the time I don’t know if I am running early or late. I can then ask Siri the time, but better to be able to set some parameters to tell her to give me the eta as a time, or elapsed time, or both.

    Siri extensions for Swift would be awesome…

    1. Exactly. When I ask Siri my ETA, why can’t she tell me WHAT TIME I’ll arrive at my destination? Or how about telling me what time the timer will go off instead of telling me I shiver with antici- pation. 🤔🙄😠

  3. I agree with the author’s request 100%.

    Siri does a great deal, no question. But I do believe that an API for developers and a suitable interface for users can add tremendous value.

    No doubt there are many workable ways to do this. Here’s just one example of how it might be done: Whenever you want to use Siri WITHIN an app just say “Ask “. Then wait for the beep and then make your app specific request. Developers, of course, would need a good API to make this happen.

    It’s an area of advancement I’d love to see going forward.

    1. Sorry but somehow my proposal got badly garbled. I’ll try again.

      Let’s say you wanted to make a Siri request of an app named GreatMovies. With my suggested approach you’d say to siri “Ask GreatMovies”. Then wait for the beep and make your request.

      A associated apple API would make it reasonable for App developers to respond to the request.

  4. I would like to add special vocabularies. As an example, just read the elements of the periodic table to Siri and see what comes out. Even if if I could train Siri myself that would be a big help.

  5. I would like Siri to work offline. Where I live the cellular coverage is spotty, which make Siri very unreliable when I’m in my car—where I really need Siri’s hands-free capabilities. Throw another chip into my next iPhone for this. I don’t expect a lot of look up data or texting obviously, but I’d like to be able to make notes and reminders at least.

  6. Siri is an ongoing, mild disappointment for me. I know she can start a timer, check a sports score or start a workout (on my Watch), but when it comes to something a little more involved like “search my notes for X” it’s a no go. At this point Apple’s AI tech is too weak to make a big difference. It seems they’ve just developed hundreds of potential, narrow questions for Siri to answer, I expected much more after 4 years. Perhaps this is the tradeoff of having more privacy through Apple as compared to Google or MSFT.

    1. There’s certainly a wider opportunity for user abuse in the form of surveillance. Marketing Morons (versus Marketing Mavens, who demand respect for their customers) love this stuff and will be drawn to it like moths to a flame. But feeding this data to the Marketing Morons must never be allowed.

      IOW: There Is No Price To Pay For Increased Machine Intelligence in terms of privacy. No documentation of Siri searches need go any further than the user’s device. If this requires Siri to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) methods to obfuscate who is asking Siri what, then so be it.

      The customer is collaborator, never victim. That’s the Marketing Maven standard.

  7. All of this wishful thinking about Siri gets into engendering and developing further steps toward real AI (Artificial Intelligence). We’re in an era of programming where the results are guaranteed to be dangerous or clunky if only from the point of view of memory management.

    Apple’s Swift language, now made open source, is a step in the right direction of giving programmers superior tools to help get the job done.

    The next step is to develop concepts and standards around the concept of the user interface, beyond graphical and into auditory. This is where we seriously meet the rubber with the road regarding Turing Test worthy programming, where interfaces like Siri can comprehend a great deal more of the verbiage we throw at it and dig deeper down into its scattered computational resources to come up with the most relevant responses.

    And no, this has nothing-at-all to do with sentient AI. It’s simply about logical thinking machines handling wide ranging input and wide ranging output.

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