Siri and Search
Search is shifting from being reactive to being proactive, and iOS 9 is set to make great strides in this space. The concept of a ‘proactive assistant’ is baked deep into the operating system, which can learn your habits and provide relevant apps and content at opportune moments. For example, if you like a morning run, you could get suitable music on the Lock screen.
Siri has reportedly improved in accuracy over the last year, to the point Apple claims it’s industry-leading. Now, Siri will have more intelligence too, understanding time and place. Ask to see “photos from London last August” and you’ll get them. Find something interesting in Safari and you can ask it to “remind me about this at 5pm”; later on you’ll get a timed reminder, complete with a link to what you were looking at.
But it’s the iOS’s built-in search engine that’s arguably getting the biggest revamp. It’s now accessed by swiping left of the Home screen, and comes pre-populated with content. You’ll see contacts based on upcoming meetings and your communication patterns, and apps you tend to use at the time of day you’re searching. Nearby places for eating and entertainment, along with news headlines, also feature.
Search will be open to developers, enabling your favourite apps to be plugged directly into the system. You’ll be able to access recipes in Yummly and rentals in Airbnb, and then go right back to search when you’re done. Rather than an occasional place to visit, it will be an intelligent hub, offering sports results, weather forecasts, conversions, and fully playable videos.
Crucially, none of this compromises your privacy: Apple said it doesn’t mine your content in the cloud to learn about you, and everything stays ‘on device’. Searches are anonymous, aren’t linked to other Apple services, and they don’t share identifying information with third parties. As Apple maintained: you are in control.
Rather than merely being functional, search and Siri in iOS 9 aim to be intelligent. In particular, the main search screen has been revamped in order to immediately provide you with useful in-context shortcuts and links.