What you need to know
- Apple is bringing two major features to Siri this year.
- The assistant will now support on-device speech recognition and third-party devices.
During its WWDC keynote, Apple announced that it would be bringing on-device speech recognition and third-party device support for Siri. Both are huge features that have been long-requested by Apple users.
The first feature is on-device speech recognition, a feature that basically everyone that uses Siri will appreciate. Moving speech recognition and processing on-device means that you will now be able to make common Siri requests without an internet connection. For anyone who has been without a cellular connection and found out that Siri couldn't do something as simple as setting a timer, today is a good day.
Moving these operations on an iPhone, iPad, and more will also speed up Siri's performance, another huge benefit for anyone who wants to use the voice assistant to accomplish tasks quickly.
With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users' requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default. This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording. For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or controlling music.
Apple also announced that third-party device makers can now offer Siri as a voice assistant, a huge shift for the service. Siri has been exclusive to Apple devices since its inception, so today marks a huge move by Apple to bring its voice assistant to other brand's devices and compete more directly with Google Assistant and Alexa.
Devices that want to add support for Siri will reportedly need to already support HomeKit and work with the Home app. It also seems to require a HomePod or HomePod mini as Apple says that third-party devices can "relay requests through HomePod or HomePod mini and will support features such as Personal Requests, Intercom, timers, and alarms."
So, while support is coming to third-party devices, it is still being tightly controlled by Apple through its own devices and services. Regardless, it's great to see Apple finally opening up its assistant to additional devices in the home.