It is no secret that Amazon and Google have been making moves and placing their bet on the voice assistant market. With Amazon focusing on the home speaker eco-system and Google becoming a voice-driven organisation across home speakers, mobile and of course the controversial Google Duplex.
Apple needed to do something
Though Siri was an early contender to the voice race, it has not improved much over the last few years and frankly has been left in the dust by its competitors in voice innovation. Though this year at Apple’s annual WWDC, Siri got some much-needed love and turned over 1 billion Apple devices into 1 billion voice assistants with the soon to be released iOS 12. Apple is about to bring voice to the true mainstream of customers.
What is Siri Shortcuts
Siri shortcuts enable’s any iOS app to expose a hook into Siri, this includes Siri search, suggestions but most importantly Siri voice.
Last year Apple acquired a company called workflow, workflow which is soon to be known as the Shortcuts app, enables you to perform workflows of actions on your device.
If you want to send a message to your partner with your ETA to get home or the ability to tweet the current song your listening too, you could do this with the workflow now shortcuts app. There are over 200 actions already supported meaning you can build almost anything cross your contacts, calendar, maps, music, photos etc.
The new shortcuts app is a polished-up version of the workflow app Apple acquired, the app has some minor UI tweaks, but with iOS 12, it has one particularly cool new feature, Siri voice integration.
Before iOS 12 you could create workflows that you could add to your home screen widget and control from there. Now you can activate your workflows via voice, so as you start your car engine you can say “Siri, I am on my way home” and have Siri shortcuts run a workflow that:
- Turns on your heating at home to warm or cool the house based on the current weather
- Order a Deliveroo to arrive at home 5 minutes after your ETA
- SMS family members of your ETA and that you ordered food
- Starts your next podcast
- Show driving directions so you can monitor traffic
Siri voice within your apps
When you enable Siri within an app, let’s say Deliveroo had a “reorder my favourite meal” Siri shortcut, as a user you tap the Siri button and are shown a summary of what the command will do.
What is very specific to Apple is you then record how you want to launch this shortcut. You may execute the shortcut with “Siri, reorder my favourite from Deliveroo” whereas I may say, “Siri, get me food now”. Both would work and cater to our different approaches.
Currently, developers are restricted to single command so currently no variable support meaning, if you wanted to support the below you need to set up three different integrations, but I am sure variables will come eventually.
- “Get me a coffee”
- “Get me 2 ice coffees”
- “Get me 6 coffees”
It appears Apple is treading very carefully with exposing too much to developers in the first release.
The Play Media intent is a great addition though limited, we should be able to speak to Siri and get our favourite playlists from Spotify though more complex requests such as “Siri, play duets with Tom Jones” may be restricted for some time.
Though this could be seen as Apple trying to hold off Spotify and increase Apple Music subscriptions as Apple Music does allow these more complex requests.
I think Apple is restricting third-party developers to force them to learn what a voice shortcut experience is and should work like, and protect users from developers trying to hook into every phrase possible.
Voice and Visuals
Using voice as a command to action a request is great and with this more enhanced Siri integration developers can also control how Siri will respond audibility and visually.
So once you confirm your Deliveroo reorder it would be engaging to show a photo of the meal you have just order as this helps the user to double confirm it was the correct meal they wanted.
Deliveroo like all brands will want to keep users engaged with their brand. In my opinion customers will eventually access most of their daily services via voice, though this can be problematic for brands on platforms such as Siri as voice can be a brand-less experience if not executed well.
Which app do you want to have Siri integration added too ?