Siri in iOS 10 for third party apps

Apple just introduced third-party app integration with Siri in iOS 10 at the WWDC 16 event. By allowing third-party apps to integrate with the digital voice assistant, Apple has unlocked a new realm of functionality for Siri. Developer integration expands the functionality of Siri considerably. But, Apple has also announced quite a few limitations for the integration system.

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The possible biggest limitation is that in iOS 10 the Siri API will only support six types of applications. Apple’s voice assistant will work with ride booking applications (like Uber), messaging apps (like WeChat and Whatsapp), Photo Search (for finding images in an app), Payments (like making payments with Ali Pay and SquareCash), VoIP Calling (like Skype), and Fitness apps (for beginning health and fitness activities).

Apple’s integration works in a way that separates developers from the main problems of voice recognition. Apple deals with the voice recognition and interpretation side of things. When you query Siri for something, the assistant determines whether to handle the query itself or transfer it to a third party app.

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The information that third-party apps have access to is limited. Apple’s voice assistant only conveys the relevant data needed to answer the query made by the user. The app then uses various Sirikit APIs to build a response which is then displayed onscreen.

The response APIs in Sirikit are flexible enough to allow third party apps to reply with a custom user interface. The API will allow users to complete their tasks in line to the Siri interface without having to directly jump into an app.

However, because only six types of apps are supported by third party app integration the system leaves a lot of apps shut out. This is one of the main downsides of the integration system designed by Apple. Major kinds of apps that are not covered by the Siri SDK include music apps, podcast apps, sports statistics, email, reminders and to-do lists and much more.

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The Siri in iOS 10 implementation also leaves out third party integration for media apps like music streaming. Apple has taken a big step by opening Siri to developers but there is still room for a lot of improvement in the SDK. We will have to just wait and hope that the next update expands the base of possible apps.

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