Apple launched Siri, the virtual assistant feature in 2011 with the launch of iPhone 4S. Since then it has been constantly tweaking the virtual assistant to make it smarter, and more reliable.
In iOS 6, Apple introduced a number of improvements to Siri such as the ability to respond to your sports, restaurants and movie related queries, give you turn-by-turn directions, open apps and update your status on Facebook and Twitter.
In iOS 7, Siri has received another overhaul. Here’s what new:
- The first thing you will notice when you tap and hold the Home button to launch Siri is the all new user interface. In iOS 7, Siri’s UI takes over the entire screen rather than sliding up from the bottom of the screen and just occupying just a portion of the screen. It displays “What can I help you with?” when you activate it, and displays a waveform along the bottom, to give you a sense of feeling that it is listening to you. The background of the user interface is translucent like the Notification Center. The information icon has been replaced with a question mark, which gives you information about some of the things you can ask Siri.
- One of the biggest changes in Siri in iOS 7, has been Apple’s decision to ditch Google in favor of Bing for web search results. The web search results powered by Bing are now displayed within Siri’s UI, instead of launching Safari. As you scroll down, Siri also offers suggestions under the “Did you mean” section, to ensure it understood your query correctly.
- However, don’t worry, you can still use Google for the web search as there is a workaround for it. Simply say “Search Google for” and your search term, it will launch Safari and display the search results on Google, just the way it works in iOS 6.x currently.
- It also gives you an option to search Twitter for your query below the “Did you mean” section. Tapping on Twitter displays the Tweets that match your search query within Siri’s UI.
- You can also search Twitter for tweets on certain topics, or a specific user. You can ask Siri questions like “What is Twitter user saying” and it displays 10+ tweets by that Twitter user.
- Siri is also integrated with Wikipedia, so queries such as “Tell me about Niagara Falls”, displays information from Wikipedia within Siri’s UI. The consolation of integrating Wikipedia and web search results powered by Bing in Siri’s UI is that, it should make it a lot more easier to use Siri when the device is locked. In iOS 6, Siri had to launch Safari to display the search results, which required you to unlock the device.
- One of the coolest new features is the ability to enable or disable system toggles such as Airplane mode (only enable), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Do Not Disturb etc. All you need to say is “Turn on Wi-Fi,” “Turn off Bluetooth” etc. You can also adjust the screen brightness using Siri. You can use commands such as “Turn up the brightness,” or “Turn down the brightness”. It doesn’t understand commands such as “Turn brightness to 50%” etc.
- Siri gets new voices in select languages. For example a new male voice for English (United States) and a new female voice for French (France) etc.
- Siri’s voice is also a lot clearer, more natural sounding. Check out the video below to hear Siri’s voice in iOS 6 and iOS 7, both with a female voice, you’ll notice that there’s a very noticeable difference between them.
- Does Siri pronounce your name incorrectly? You can finally tell Siri it is pronouncing your name wrong. Siri will also prompt you if it has trouble pronouncing a name and request you to teach it how to say it. During the teaching process, it will prompt you to say the name and then prompt you to select from one of options by repeating the name based on how you pronounced it. Once you select the option, it will start pronouncing the name the way you want it. You can simply say “That’s not how you pronounce [any name]” to start the teaching process.
Here’s a detailed video walkthrough of the new features and improvements to Siri in iOS 7:
While I’m a little disappointed that Apple switched to Bing for web search and hasn’t given us an option to switch to Google, the integrated web results in Siri’s UI offers a much better user experience.
Overall, Siri’s user interface is sleeker and a lot more user friendly, and the ability to enable or disable system toggles using Siri.
Let us know what you think of the new improvements and changes. Do you plan to give it another chance now that Apple has also dropped the “beta” label?