While Apple has slowly been allowing Siri to integrate with third-party apps—most recently it allowed Spotify to tap into the voice assistant’s vast knowledge for playing music—the experience still pales in comparison to what you get when you use Apple’s own apps. That’s might change soon. Or it might not. It all depends on Siri.
In response to a Bloomberg News story about the iPhone maker’s preferential treatment for its own apps, Apple told the publication that an iOS update later this year will allow Siri to “default to the apps that people use frequently to communicate with their contacts.” If you generally use WhatsApp to contact your friends more than Messages, Siri will eventually switch to WhatsApp when asked to send a text. Apple said the new system will be applied on a per-contact basis and apply to phone calls as well.
That’s a major shift from how it works now. When you ask Siri to send a message on an iPhone, it will automatically open Messages unless you specifically add “using WhatsApp” to your query.
However, the system as described still stops far short of letting you select default apps for use with Siri. Asking Siri to use a specific app every time is a clunky solution designed to keep Apple’s default apps in play. On Android, for example, you can choose a specific app as a default for your browser, phone and messaging on your phone, as well as set a default music service within the Google Assistant settings.
With the system Apple will be rolling out, you’re relying on Siri to do the choosing behind the scenes. That means you won’t actually know which app will be used until after it’s selected, and if it’s the wrong one, you’ll need to quit and try again with the appropriate command.
Not to mention, Siri doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to learning and understanding what we actually want.
While the new system will technically be better than the current system, it feels like a stopgap rather than a real change. It’s needlessly opaque and doesn’t mention whether HomePod or Apple Watch will be included. And most importantly, it doesn’t address the one default app people want most of all: Music.
Apple already lets us delete unwanted stock apps and change the keyboard to a third-party one, but even with this upcoming change it’s still clinging to a set of default apps that users may or may not use. For Siri to be as useful as Apple wants it to be, it needs to be set free and able to work with all of the apps on all of our devices.