For when you can't or shouldn't talk, imagine being able to access Siri through text!

The ability to type rather than talk to Siri is something I've had on my wish list for years. Apple's gotten us a lot of the way there. Siri. Spotlight is now replete with "Siri Intelligence" to provided better, more contextual search and access to a wealth of useful information. In other words, queries have largely been handled. What's left is the ability to execute commands. Maybe iOS 10.1, iOS 10.2, or iOS 10.3 is already on it. If not, Apple's gearing up for iOS 11, and I hope they gear up type to Siri along with it!

Siri 'voice free'

Since its debut as part of iOS 5 in 2011, Apple has made incredible progress expanding the company's virtual personal assistant, Siri. It's moved onto our roads with Eyes Free and CarPlay, onto our wrists with Apple Watch, and into our living rooms with Apple TV. It speaks more languages than ever before, including Chinese and Hebrew, and is beginning to handle multi-language queries so you can ask for an English movie in French, for example. Siri can even do Voice ID now, so it can better differentiate your voice from others'.

No matter how enabling and useful Siri is, though, there will be times when it's simply not possible or socially acceptable to talk out loud to our phones or tablets. In those situations, being able to type "Cupertino weather" or even "Text Georgia I'll be late" would be incredibly useful.

iOS 9 made the first one possible. Simply pull down the search box from any Home screen and type in "cupertino weather", and you get your answer. The second one, however, remains a beautiful dream. Type in "text Georgia I'll be late" and get... some offers to search the Web, App Store, or Maps.

Nature language is powerful. Siri has shown that for voice. The new smarter search has shown that, in part, for text.

What makes this feature so tantalizing is that Siri can already handle commands input by text. Once you've made a voice query or command, an "edit" button appears. I can say "what's the weather in Cupertino" and Siri will tell me. Then I can tap the "Edit" button, change the text to "Text Georgia I'll be late", and Siri will quickly execute the input-via-text command and prepare the message.

That's what makes it so easy to imagine doing the same absent the first step: pulling down or swiping over into the search box and typing out the command to begin with.

Quick access to quick actions

Multiple points of entry into the Siri system don't increase complexity—they increase accessibility. If you don't want to access Siri via text, keep using voice. Can't use voice? Text is there for you. By making text an option, it opens the full range of Siri functionality to even more people in an even wider range of circumstances.

There are a lots of precedents. Quicksilver, LaunchBar, and Alfred have all offered text-based quick actions on the Mac for years. Just Type from webOS and Type and Go from BlackBerry have tried the same on mobile. Launch Center Pro has even made an icon-driven version work as far as current iOS limitations will allow.

With text-based access to Siri's engine, "Text Georgia I'm be late" is just one example of the type of quick-action that could be efficiently typed out. "Tweet Guy Wow, arrow was bananas!" could instantly send your status to social media. "Meeting with Mikah and Lory at 6 pm tomorrow" could add an event to your calendar.

An (even) smarter assistant

Once Siri becomes fully accessible to text, it can also become fully accessible to text-based apps. Imagine being able to @siri in Messages and quickly add something to a calendar or reminder without changing contexts.

Not in a creepy "we'll read and store all your messages" Google Allo sense of the word, but in a way extended from how Apple handles data detectors and injectors today.

You could @siri in Notes or almost anywhere and handle basic tasks without ever taking your fingers off the virtual keyboard.

It could be bots done right. But could it be done right for iOS 11?

Your wish list?

What do you want to see from Siri in iOS 11?

I've submitted this feature request to Apple: rdar://26213732.