Hey Siri, why can’t I use you on more apps?

Many big names missing in ac­tion

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Jef­fer­son Gra­ham @ jef­fer­songra­ham USA TODAY GETTY IM­AGES/ IS­TOCK­PHOTO SCREENSHOT BY JEF­FER­SON GRA­HAM, USA TODAY

MAN­HAT­TAN BEACH, CALIF. Last sum­mer, Ap­ple was busy ad­ver­tis­ing its lat­est move to beef up Siri, the per­sonal dig­i­tal as­sis­tant for the iPhone, iPad and Mac com­put­ers.

For the first time, Ap­ple said, de­vel­op­ers would be able to add Siri to our fa­vorite apps, thus promis­ing a brighter fu­ture for the heav­ily used, but of­ten ma­ligned, voice computing tool.

“Siri,” Ap­ple said in Septem­ber, when the lat­est IOS mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem was re­leased, “works with your fa­vorite apps from the App Store.”

But fast for­ward to today, and it turns out few app mak­ers have taken the bait. Of the top 50 most down­loaded apps in Ap­ple’s App Store, only a hand­ful cur­rently work with Siri, a USA TODAY anal­y­sis found. They are ride- hail­ing apps Uber and Lyft, What­sapp, Pinterest, Twit­ter and Yelp.

Missing in ac­tion: Face­book, In­sta­gram, Snapchat, Google Maps, Spo­tify, Net­flix and many oth­ers. Ap­ple says Siri also works with YouTube, but it wasn’t co­op­er­at­ing this week. Out­side the top 50, Ap­ple says Siri works with LinkedIn, Skype, PayPal and Venmo.

What hap­pened? De­vel­op­ers for the most part chose not to sign onto what’s called Sir­iKit to in­te­grate the as­sis­tant into the app be­cause Ap­ple only let Siri be used in six cat­e­gories ( since ad­justed to nine), and “that knocked al­most every­one out,” says Bret Kin­sella, pub­lisher of the Voice­bot. ai web­site, which cov­ers ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and voice computing. “It was just too re­stric­tive.”

Steven Si­nof­sky, a board part­ner with in­vest­ment firm An­dreessen Horowitz, said Siri didn’t see much “no­tice­able takeup” from de­vel­op­ers due to its “over­all rep­u­ta­tion. It could also be that voice con­trol is still too much of a gim­mick, es­pe­cially when your phone is at­tached to you,” he wrote in a re­cent Medium post.

Ap­ple de­clined to of­fer com­ment for this story.

But Ama­zon’s voice- ac­ti­vated Echo speaker hasn’t had such prob­lems. The line has be­come one of Ama­zon’s best- sell­ing items, with 10 mil­lion units to date, grow­ing to 20 mil­lion by the end of the year, For­rester Re­search says.

The growth of Alexa and am­bi­tious ad­vance of ri­val Google As­sis­tant on An­droid phones and the Google Home speaker has fur­ther put a dent into Siri’s rep­u­ta­tion. De­spite its early ad­van­tage ( it was the first widely used dig­i­tal as­sis­tant of its kind when it launched in 2011) and ubiq­uity ( on more than 1 bil­lion iPhones), it long has been the butt of jokes af­ter it failed to im­prove to the de­gree users ex­pect- ed. Its ri­vals have moved in, tak­ing the valu­able time and at­ten­tion of users. Siri had an av­er­age 41.4 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users in the U. S. in May, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey of 20,000 peo­ple by Verto An­a­lyt­ics. That’s down 15% from the same pe­riod a year ago, when Siri had 48 mil­lion, Verto es­ti­mates. At the same time, Alexa, start­ing from a far lower base, saw its us­age in­crease 225%, from 0.8 mil­lion users to 2.6 mil­lion. Siri still has a big lead over its ri­vals, thanks to adop­tion by iPhone. That has given it a head start in loy­alty, too: Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by Sur­veyMon­key Au­di­ence for USA TODAY, when asked which voice as­sis­tant users couldn’t live with­out, Siri won hands down. Ap­ple says Siri is used by 375 mil­lion folks monthly world­wide and pro­cesses some 2 bil­lion re­quests weekly. But Siri is strug­gling as other as­sis­tants get smarter. Com­par­ing the re­sponses of Google, Ama­zon and Siri, Google far out­paced both Ap­ple and Ama­zon in terms of an­swers it was able to de­liver in au­dio, a tes­ta­ment to the vast data­base Google can tap. Ap­ple’s ri­vals have also got­ten de­vel­op­ers on board where Ap­ple hasn’t.

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