Has Apple Fixed Siri In Ios 12?

Apple is halfway there with Siri Shortcuts.

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Apple is halfway there with Siri Shortcuts.

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Many people think Apple’s Siri is lagging behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant by quite a distance, in both accuracy and results. But the much-maligned 6-year-old voice assistant will be getting quite the upgrade later this year when iOS 12 arrives. The amazing thing is Apple didn’t pull it off by making huge cloud or AI investments but through a new software feature called Siri Shortcuts. 

First shown at the WWDC developer conference in June, Shortcuts let apps expose their capabilities to Siri. At the basic level, you’ll see better Siri suggestions in Search. As you use Shortcuts-enabled apps and Siri learns about your usage, Siri will start suggesting shortcuts on the lock- screen. Tap on a shortcut and instead of being whisked into the app, an inline UI will appear in which you can take action. All the analysis is done on-device, so there’s no worry about Apple keeping a database of your habits. 

While a proactive Siri on the iPhone is good, what’s great about Shortcuts is that you can use them with your voice. Just ask Siri. Apps can provide custom dialogs for Siri to read out to you, too. This minimizes the chances that the voice assistant will butcher the response. 

For power users, there’s also a new Shortcuts app that will let you customize your shortcuts, and even chain them into multi-step shortcuts. Want to automatically turn on the lights, start a music playlist, and send a message to your better half when you’re home? With Shortcuts in iOS 12, you can run all these tasks with a single tap or voice command. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that Siri is getting immensely useful due to Shortcuts. Think about it: Alexa is effective because it has more than 40,000 “skills” to hook into hundreds, if not thousands, of services. But the App Store has more than two million iOS apps. If every app adopts Shortcuts, it would be an cinch for Siri to overtake Alexa. Well, at least in the capabilities department. 

Shortcuts you’ve created will also work across other Apple products, such as the Apple Watch, HomePod, and CarPlay. This will stand Apple in good stead as it explores more Siri devices in the future, be it smart home hubs, smart speakers, or AR glasses. 

I expect developers to be on-board with Siri Shortcuts quickly. But the biggest challenge Apple faces is to get its users to use Shortcuts. The “dumb Siri” perception will continue if no one makes use of what’s arguably the most powerful feature Siri has gotten since it first arrived.