Apple reportedly working on expanding Siri partnerships, iWatch support

Apple is reportedly looking at expanding Siri partnerships, potentially for iOS 8, as is a small screen version of the interface that could work on something the size of the rumored iWatch. Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin writing for The Information:

Apple is working on ways to improve the search capabilities of Siri, its virtual assistant, by allowing it to point users to third-party apps, according to people familiar with the effort. That requires Siri to better understand what each app does. Today, Siri can do things like search for the weather or look up information over the Web. But iPhone users can’t ask Siri to book a car or hotel reservation, or send a message through a messaging app other than iMessage. Apple has struck specific deals to allow Siri users to buy movie tickets through Fandango and book restaurant reservations through OpenTable, but the goal is to make such functionality possible without custom, one-off business deals.

There's the old customer insight play but intermediating search in general has a ton of value beyond direct monetization. Owning the interface, after all, means owning the app experience.

Do expanded partnerships make sense? It's what Apple did in iOS 6 for movies, sports, and more. It's probably also a better short-term strategy than an open application programming interface (API) which is also apparently still under development/consideration.

Surfacing a Siri API remains non-trivlal. (For a humorous blast-from-the-past see Guy English's A Dynamic Siri piece, written shortly after launch.) Right now Apple does partnerships with select apps, like Yelp and Open Table. Not only would an open API destroy the value of those partnerships, the could result in a lot of collisions. For example, what happens if you want to add an appointment but have 3 Siri-enabled Calendar apps installed? Which one catches the request?

Expanding the partnerships is a middle-ground, but, to use the messaging example, it'll be tough to juggle who gets in. Would WhatsApp? Facebook Messenger? How about Microsoft's Skype or Google's Hangouts? Seems like any large scale partnership play would inevitably lead to cries of unfairness and give Apple exactly the wrong type of attention.

Either way, expanded partnerships or API, until there's concrete information on how it will work there's not much to do but contemplate the problems.

Personally, a rumor I'd much rather see is for on-device Siri natural language parsing. Anyone else have anything else they'd like to see in Siri for iOS 8?

Source: The Information (Pay-walled)