There are a lot of exciting improvements in store for Siri in iOS 11. Apple showed off some of the highlights at WWDC, but there are five changes in particular that you don't want to miss.
From a new voice to a cool on-device learning feature, this Siri update could have a pretty big impact on how you use your iPhone or iPad. True, a lot of it is just your typical Apple hype, but additions like a new translate feature and the ability to type to Siri will be quite useful, so I'll give you a tour of the important changes below. You can also try the new Siri out yourself by installing iOS 11 right now.
In a move that might leave privacy-minded folks feeling a little queasy, Siri now keeps better track of your interests. As you use your iPhone, data is collected about topics you've researched or shown interest in, among other things. With this information, Siri can serve up personalized recommendations in native apps, including Safari, Maps, Messages, and News.
In iOS 11, one way to see Siri recommendations in action is to use the News app. Siri suggestions will appear in the For You pane and become more tailored as you use the News app more. Siri will also suggest searches and add autocorrect entries to your keyboard based on what you've read in Safari, News, or Maps, and ask whether you want to add an event you just confirmed to your calendar. It will help you answer questions such as "How far away are you?" in Messages.
Ever needed a quick translation? Have no fear, Siri in iOS 11 is here! Siri can now translate from English to five languages — Chinese, German, Italian, French and Spanish — with more languages to be added in the months to come.
Using this feature is incredibly simple. Just ask Siri, "How do I say," or "translate," then follow that up with the line you want to translate and the language you're looking to translate to. Siri will speak the translation back to you so you can hear how it sounds, but you'll also get a text-based translation.
Siri's translations have been impressively accurate thus far, though it's still not quite to the level of Google Translate. But the usefulness of this feature is only bound to grow as more languages and translations become supported over the coming months, and you can read more about it at the following link:
At some point down the road, this next new Siri feature might be hailed as the biggest of them all — though for now, there's not much that we can try out. To put it simply, iOS 11 increased the ways developers can integrate Siri into third-party apps, which means Siri will be able to help out even when you're not actively using the assistant.
Apple announced that Siri will be able to handle task management with OmniFocus 2, take notes with Evernote, use mobile banking apps like Citi Mobile, and generate QR codes in WeChat. These features don't appear to be live in the early beta versions of iOS 11, but this new API — called SiriKit — definitely shows promise.
According to Apple, Siri's new male and female voices are more natural and expressive, adjusting intonation, pitch, emphasis, and tempo while speaking. We've definitely noticed the difference already, as some words and phrases that previously sounded robotic now have a much more natural delivery.
For an end user, it's not the most major change, but Apple certainly did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get Siri's voices to this level. Craig Federighi, Apple's Head of Engineering, explained at WWDC that Apple "used deep learning to create a really natural and expressive voice for Siri," and it definitely shows.
Despite the fact that 51% of people use their voice assistants in private settings, only 6% are bold enough to talk to their phones in public. So to save you some embarrassment, Apple has finally added the ability to type to Siri in iOS 11.
It works just about exactly as you'd expect, though you do have to adjust some settings if you want to use your keyboard to communicate with Siri. To see how the new typing feature works, make sure to check out our full guide on the subject:
While Apple has undoubtedly improved Siri in iOS 11, it remains to be seen whether these changes will be enough to match Alexa or Google Assistant. Siri definitely sounds more human, translations are a great addition, but the effectiveness and usefulness of native app recommendations remain to be seen.
What are your thoughts on the changes to Siri in iOS 11? Let us know in the comment section below.
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Screenshots by Elon Rubin/Gadget Hacks (unless otherwise indicated)