WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, is coming up in just a few weeks’ time, and even if we don’t see a brand new iPhone on stage at the keynote opener, we’re expecting lots of details on iOS 6, as well as Mountain Lion for Mac.
We’ve highlighted what we think will be the headline announcements already, but today we’re going to look at one individual feature we’re expecting big things from: Siri. Apple’s voice assistant for iPhone 4S may be about to leave beta, and even roll out on other devices. So what can we expect from it? Here’s what we think.
Siri on iPad
Pundits were surprised when the new iPad launched earlier this year without Siri on board, but Apple’s surely readying it: instead, it launched with voice dictation for text entry. It’s remarkably accurate, meaning the microphone is more than up to scratch. In fact, Apple columnist MG Siegler says that Siri is more than ready, and that Apple is currently just working on the graphical interface for it.
Siri for apps
Apple will need to handle this very carefully to keep the experience top notch, but providing a set of APIs so third party apps can plug into Siri seems like an obvious win, especially since right now Siri can’t even launch apps – and Siegler has also said this is a possibility. Although it already taps into search engine Wolfram Alpha for some information, tapping into individual apps could prove to be amazing. Imagine telling Siri to play a certain Spotify playlist while jogging, or being able to ask it what platform your connecting train is on as you pull into the station.
Siri will happily give you voice directions on the iPhone 4S…if you live in America. As we’ve reported before, it still won’t work outside of the the States. Yet. You’d hope that after almost a year, Apple would have managed to solve this issue. And while we’re on it: robust, free turn by turn navigation using Siri’s voice could well form a part of iOS 6 Maps, reported to be a complete overhaul that dumps Google Maps for Apple’s own.
Siri, take a voice memo
As we’ve noted before, there are several commands that Siri acknowledges you’ve given it, but says it’s unable to perform. Of them, the most intriguing is “Take a voice memo”: it responds with “I haven’t yet learned to take dictation” [My italics]. That sounds like it could well do soon, potentially baking an Evernote competitor right inside iOS 6.
Siri, update my status
iOS 5 already has Twitter integration, but you can’t tweet directly with Siri (unless you use a roundabout SMS set up). That seems to be the next obvious feature, especially considering Samsung’s rival voice assistant S-Voice lets you do this, but why stop there? Apple CEO Tim Cook has been making overtures towards Facebook recently, hinting at warming relationships with the world’s biggest social network (Facebook is “one company that is closest to being like Apple,” he reportedly said), and thawing the Cold War started by the Ping-Facebook furore. Could you soon be able to dictate your Facebook updates too?
Siri for Mac
Not so much an iOS 6 feature, but 9to5Mac has found clues in the developer preview of the next version of OS X for Mac, Mountain Lion, suggesting that Siri is on its way to Mac, too. It’s an obvious next step, given the increasing influence of iOS on OS X, as well as the ample horsepower in your typical MacBook. Being able to dictate emails would be incredibly convenient. Well, when you’re working from home and no one can hear you, anyway.