Apple iOS 10: ​First look at improved Siri shows better control of third-party apps

Siri could be much more compelling to use in iOS 10 thanks to a better grasp of natural language and more control of third-party apps.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Siri is getting upgraded as part of iOS 10.

Image: CNET/CBS Interactive

Apple's virtual assistant Siri is to become a more powerful tool in iOS 10, thanks to the voice-controlled helper's ability to better manage third-party apps.

When iOS 10 hits iPhones and iPads, Apple says Siri will capable of a much broader range of tasks, be they messaging someone on LinkedIn or making a payment using Square Cash.

Apple announced this broader integration with third party apps at its developer conference in June, but with iOS 10's release on the horizon the Wall Street Journal gained an early demo of how these changes will allow Siri to control mobile payments, image search, and messaging apps.

Early apps to join Siri include WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Square Cash, Slack, and lesser-known apps such as Looklive and The Roll, according to the report.

The WSJ reporter told Siri: "Siri, send Catherine $20 for lunch with cash", which initiated a transfer using Square Cash that could be authorised by pressing the Touch ID home button.

Thanks to LinkedIn's integration, it's possible to say, for example: "Hey Siri, send Jim Gonzalez a message in LinkedIn", which triggers a direct message to the contact via the Microsoft-owned service. This expands on Siri's current capability to dictate a message using Apple's Messages.

Countering suggestions that Apple is behind the game on AI, the Cupertino company recently showed off Siri's AI-enhanced ability to interpret natural language, demoing how commands using everyday language would work with third-party apps. For example, using Siri, a person could say: "Shoot twenty bucks to my wife", which triggers a transfer in Square.

On this front, Siri can respond to more specific requests, according to the WSJ report. For example: "Siri, show me photos of what Kanye West wore to the VMA awards this year in Looklive" returned images of Kanye's wardrobe with links to pages where items could be bought.

One notable feature of third-party app integration with Siri is that the app itself remains in the background and is replaced by a card in the style of the app, which displays details of the action.

While developers might not like their apps to be obscured by Siri, LinkedIn's vice president of engineering, Kirin Prasad, told the WSJ that it opens up the service to be used for messaging, which most users otherwise don't think to use it for.

The WSJ reporter also noted that it was easier to use Siri to complete a task in iOS 10 than launching the app and typing instructions.

According to the report, at launch it will be possible to use Siri for chat with LinkedIn, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Slack. Square and Monzo will be available for payments. For image search, available apps include Pinterest, Vogue Runway, Looklive, The Roll and Pikazo.

Read more on iOS 10

Editorial standards