Apple to unveil ‘Proactive’ to compete with Google Now, Augmented Reality Maps, deep search within iOS 9 and new Siri API

iOS Spotlight search

There is a lot going into the future of iOS, and one of those things could make Siri, and Spotlight Search, a true rival to Google’s digital assistant, Google Now.

The report indicating the future of Siri and Spotlight was recently published by 9to5Mac, and suggests that Apple is almost prepared to rollout a new initiative focused on iOS called “Proactive.” With this movement, Apple will be leveraging a wide assortment of Apple’s own features, including Siri, Contacts, Passbook, Calendar and even third-party apps to provide up-to-date information, resources and more when the user needs it.

Like Google Now, Proactive will deliver timely information to the user when they need it most, based on device usage patterns and information gleaned from the aforementioned methods. Apple will have this feature accessible and feature-rich, but for those that still prefer their security and want to set specific privacy preferences, Apple will allow for this, too.

While Siri will play a major role within this new rollout, the actual star of the movement is Spotlight Search, as Apple evolves the feature to better equip iOS users with the information they need, when they need it.

According to the report, the work on Proactive began around 2013, when Apple picked up the personal assistant app, Cue (for a rumored $40 million). As such, and with the work already in place, the inclusion of Wikipedia results within the Spotlight search results was the first indicator of Proactive’s future arrival. The idea was to continue to lessen iOS’s reliance on Google Search, and indeed, Apple has been working away from Google for quite some time.

Practive will effectively replace Spotlight on iOS devices in the future, and will become another layer of the OS proper, indicating a deep level of integration with the mobile platform as a whole.

Right now, Spotlight is accessed by sliding a finger down on the Home screen, so that the search option slides down form the top of the display. Before this implementation, though, Apple had the Spotlight search to the left of the first Home screen, with an obvious indicator that the page was always there for easy accessibility. According to the report, Apple will go back to this layout with Proactive, as internal results show that Spotlight is not accessed all that often, especially with no indicator that it’s available. At the same time, though, the report also suggests it could retain this feature, but also have that further-most left page also available.

The report also indicates that Proactive will work much like Google Now, with a dedicated search bar at the top of the page, and populated content below it. This content will range in scope, from current topics, famous people and information that’s pulled from the user’s own content, including flight status and more. Notifications will be prompted when information is available within Proactive as well, but the report suggests that Notification Center will not be getting removed, or see any major changes, either.

Praactive will get smarter as the user uses it, too. As suggested in the initial report, if the user opens the Facebook app every morning at 9 AM, then Proactive will populate a button to open Facebook within it, for easy access. Or, if someone calls their mother at 5 PM every other day, then the option to “Call Mom” will appear within Proactive when the day rolls around. What’s more, the Recent Contacts bubble list that appears in the multitasking area of iOS 8 could be repositioned within Proactive completely.

Proactive will also showcase restaurant suggestions throughout the day, especially for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all of that will be based on the user’s location.

Maps will be getting a little upgrade as well, with the inclusion of augmented reality, if the report pans out. With this feature, a user will be able to use Maps, hold up the phone as if they were taking a picture, and focus in on a business they want to learn more information about. Once that happens, the Maps app will populate with pop-up information bubbles, ranging from price, ratings and reviews, and business information that can all be accessed with the tap of a finger.

Adding to that idea, a new “Browse Around Me” feature could allow the user to simply hold up their phone, and Maps will populate the display with popular sites to see around them. It would be a quick way to find local hotspots or other noteworthy areas that locals have hyped up on their own.

Apple will also be focusing on Siri, other than giving the digital personal assistant a makeover, and launching a service for developers called “Breadcrumbs.” Breadcrumbs will allow Proactive and Siri to index certain apps on the user’s phone, which will then let the user access certain areas of an app faster and more easily. As an example in the report, if a user watches a certain genre of movies within the Netflix app more often than any other, then Siri could be asked to open that specific genre within the Netflix app, without having to simply just open Netflix and navigate to the area manually.

Lastly, the report indicates that all of these new features are coming, but when is still up in the air. Apparently several different Apple executives are still hesitant about the rollout of Proactive, as well as other aforementioned features, simply because the update to iOS 9 is meant to focus on software improvements and optimizations behind the scenes, and that a huge rollout like this could impede that investment and implementation. As it stands, the report indicates that these new features might not be unveiled at WWDC this year, which takes place at the beginning of June.

What do you think of these ideas?

[via 9to5Mac]