Siri, originally created as a stand-alone App Store app by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Tom Gruber, was bought by Apple and integrated into iOS 5 for the iPhone 4s launch in 2011.
A digital assistant with sequential inference and context awareness, Siri answers questions and executes commands not in a vacuum but in relation to whatever questions and commands came before. As Siri to find you a Starbucks and it will pull up a list of locations close to where you are. Ask for directions and it knows Starbucks is where you want to go and brings up the best route to get you there.
Apple has been steadily increasing Siri's abilities as well. The company has added partnerships with OpenTable and Fandango so you can plan dinner and a movie. It's also been tied into sports results, entertainment information, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, and more. Most recently, Apple added "Hey Siri" for hands-free voice activation when your device is plugged in, streaming voice-to-text so dictation happens while you're talking, and integration with CarPlay and HomeKit so you can not only drive safer but control your house with a word.
Siri also boasts industry-leading language accuracy in English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Korean, and Spanish, and has additional languages now in beta, including Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
There are still a lot of things Siri doesn't do, however, including "Google Now"-style predictive assistance — sifting through your data and crunching it on the cloud to try and anticipate your needs and present reminders and help in advance. It's hard to see that part changing in the near term, since Apple currently believes they shouldn't be aggregating and manipulating your personal data on their servers.
What else would you want to see from Siri in iOS 9?
- On-device voice-parsing to avoid having to go online for local commands like "set alarm".
- "Hey Siri" alternatives for multi-iOS device homes. (Read more)
- "Hey Siri" option for when not plugged in. (With battery life warning.)
- "Send ETA" to message your estimated time of arrival during navigation.
- Return of "Rise to Speak" for Siri.
- Text input so you can access Siri results via Sportlight. (Read more)
- Siri "Faces"-informed search so you can find photos of your kids.
- Sir for Mac
- Siri API for developers. (Read more)
The Apple Watch is going to have Siri as well. Increasingly, it will be an interface through which we control and communicate with all the technology in our daily lives. So, if Apple asked you what you'd like to see in Siri for iOS 9, what would you say?