Apple makes a big deal about being at the forefront of privacy protection online. So it’s surprising that, for all these years, Siri has required an internet connection to work. It processes all your requests online, even for things that have no online component like setting timers or adjusting volume. So much as utter, “Hey Siri” when not connected to the internet and you’ll get this:
With iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, that’s finally changing. Siri will gain a new on-device speech recognition model on all devices with an A12 Bionic processor or later (that’s an iPhone XS/XR or later). That’s a huge boon to the privacy-conscious, as it means your recorded voice is never, intentionally or unintentionally, leaving your device. Apple has confirmed with Macworld that offline Siri access will not be available in macOS Monterey.
Offline requests and speed benefits
Processing requests offline does more than improve privacy protections, though. You can now make all sorts of requests with Siri without an internet connection. Setting timers and alarms, opening apps, turning on the flashlight, audio playback controls, even asking Siri to read new messages (whatever you’ve received before you went offline)…if the information or function you need doesn’t require an internet connection, odds are Siri will happily do it offline.
Taking a round-trip internet connection out of the process also makes Siri fast. Siri starts listening and carries out actions instantly, with no small pause. It’s going to really change the way we use Siri, not only because it will feel so much more fluid, but because it will become obvious much more quickly when Siri makes a mistake.
Other new Siri features
Apple has a few other touches in store for Siri in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. None of them are groundbreaking, but all offer quality of life improvements that should make using Apple’s voice assistant a little more delightful.
Siri can (optionally) announce messages in CarPlay.
If you have AirPods, Siri can announce incoming notifications that are time-sensitive (or turn on any notifications from an app in Settings).
You’ll be able to ask Siri to control HomeKit devices at a specific time. For example, “turn off the living room lights at 10 p.m.”
Apple is expanding Siri’s language support, too, with text-to-speech voice support in more languages and mixed Indic English and native language support.
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I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.