Siri and Search

Mac Format - - WWDC 2015 -

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.

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