What was the biggest marketing (and selling) point for iPhone 4S? Not the new A5 processor, right? Nor was it the 8MP shooter, or the expanded RAM. These things were awesome, but what Apple really touted as the distinguishing feature for its 5th generation iPhone, was Cupertino’s talking virtual assistant, Siri. Be it official advertisements, parodies, memes, rants on blogs or anything else related to iPhone 4S, the one thing that everyone talked about was Siri. While the personal assistant worked pretty well in most cases, it suffered two major caveats: neither did Siri work worldwide (for all queries, that is), and and nor was it supported on any device other than the iPhone 4S. Now that Apple has reaped the benefits of massive 4S sales thanks to this exclusivity, they’ve decided to bring Siri goodness, with iOS 6, to the new iPhone 5, the new iPad 3, and the 5th generation iPod touch. Aside from removing the device discrimination, Siri also now works worldwide, and has underwent some major improvements in terms of features that it can support. Past the jump, we’ll take a look at what areas have received a functional overhaul.
Other than retaining all its usual helpful self, Siri has become more aware of sports and movies, and can pull fixtures, facts, results and ratings from various online sources, should you ask her to do so. Then, she can find places to hang and dine out near your location, and can even make reservations on your behalf. Along side the new Facebook integration, you can also tell Siri to Tweet or update your Facebook status. There’s better language support, and the virtual assistant can even read out your notifications for you, should you have any. All of this comes with a better, more natural speech recognition engine that can even decipher rather-obscure queries and fetch the right results.
Siri As A Movie Junkie & Your Personal Concierge
So you’re into movies, eh? Well, who isn’t! Your personal assistant on the new iOS devices can help you in a lot of ways when it comes to finding new flicks to watch, or check out the cast in the latest blockbuster, or even discover show timings in theatres near you. Siri uses the Rotten Tomatoes database to pull rating and star data, and your location for show timings. Then, you can ask her to show all movies from, say, Twentieth Century Fox, or ask things like “who directed The Prestige?”, and she’ll bring you the relevant information. All answers are presented in neat cards with as much information as possible contained within.
Using Siri, you can now also not only find good places to eat out near your current location, but also make reservations and read reviews, thanks to its integration with Yelp and Open Table. Pricing, location and directions can all be found through your virtual assistant, and should you find a place to your liking – perhaps that French cuisine down the block – Siri will invoke Open Table to make reservations for you on the go.
Siri Tries Out For Sports – And She Fares Well
It won’t have been the first time Apple “borrowed” innovation from Cydia and the jailbreak community (Notification Center, anyone?), and iOS 6 comes as no exception. At AddictiveTips, we’ve even covered a compilation of best Siri tweaks and add-ons a while back. A lot of tweaks that we covered endowed Siri with a fairly good knowhow of several sports, and now, Apple has brought that to its personal virtual assistant natively. You can ask Siri for schedules, fixtures, player bios and even records. The list of covered games is rather limited, including only basketball, football, baseball, soccer and hockey, but within these, you can be assured of pretty thorough coverage.
Siri Can Read Notifications & Post Updates To Facebook & Twitter
The latter being an idea we already saw featuring in a few Cydia tweaks, Siri can now also read out loud your notifications (should you have any), and tweet and post on your Facebook wall on your behalf. In lock screen mode, simply invoke her by long-pressing the Home button, and say something like “read my notifications”, and your assistant will gladly oblige. Should you have any unread messages, for instance, she will first call out the total count, then read the sender’s name, along with the message itself. Likewise, you can also check for unread emails through a simply query, although she didn’t read those out for me.
Alongside Facebook integration, Siri can now also Tweet and post Facebook updates on your behalf. The command “tweet” followed by any statement will be sent through your configured Twitter account. Same goes for Facebook, where Siri understands statements like “Post to Facebook” or “Write on my wall” followed by the message itself. It may be noted that for Twitter, you may also just Tweet your location, whereas I found that missing for Facebook.
iOS 6 Siri Is Multilingual – In 15 Languages – And International
When it was introduced with iPhone 4S, Siri had grasp of a few different languages and accents, including English (U.S., U.K., and Australian), French, German and Japanese. The latest iteration of iOS raises the bar to 15 different locales, inclusive of:
- English & Spanish (U.S.)
- English (U.K.)
- English (Australian)
- English & Canadian French
- Italian, Swiss French & Swiss German
The increased language support makes sense, too, since now, specific Siri services like finding hotels, restaurants near your location etc, will be available worldwide, and no longer restricted to the States only.
This pretty much sums up all the major changes and enhancements that iOS 6 brings to Siri, particularly those that might (and will) impact how people use and interact with their personal assistant. There have been other subtle changes, like the ability to open apps by speaking their names, preceded by “launch” or “play”, and then the famed Eyes Free project, where Apple will partner with various car manufacturers to make invoking Siri while driving a completely hands-free experience, delivering both comfort and reliability. Of course, how that turns out, only time will tell, but it is nevertheless an intriguing concept.
Siri had already been the hype with iPhone 4S, and with the new iPhone 5, which boasts almost as much new goodies as the previous one did, it is going to see a lot more (and improved) usage. Apple appears to have put considerable and careful thought in how people might be utilizing the virtual assistant on their phones, and despite the fact that some of the innovations are hugely borrowed from the jailbreak community, Siri has taken a leap towards improved usefulness, and is certain to find more fans now than before.
This guide is a part of our guide to new features in iOS 6, which covers the following topics:
- Panorama Camera Mode
- Facebook Integration
- Shared Photo Streams
- Brand New Maps App
- New Native iPad Clock App
- Phone App Improvements & Do Not Disturb
- Privacy Control
- Siri Improvements (Currently viewing)
- Remodeled App Store
- Safari Improvements
- Mail App Improvements & VIP Inbox
- New Accessibility Features
- List Of Other Lesser Known Features & UI Changes