After years of largely limiting Siri’s default capabilities to its own apps, Apple appears to finally be loosening things up and letting third-party messaging apps in on the fun.
Currently, asking Siri to send a message or make a call will lead the digital assistant to automatically use Apple’s Messages or Phone apps, rather than allowing for the possibility that users might prefer third-party apps such as WhatsApp or Skype.
According to a new report from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, an upcoming iOS software update will change this behaviour, letting Siri send requests to third-party apps — starting with messaging and later expanding to phone apps — based on past user interactions with contacts. After the iOS update, Siri will automatically use WhatsApp to respond to a contact who uses WhatsApp for communications.
“When the software refresh kicks in, Siri will default to the apps that people use frequently to communicate with their contacts,” reads the report. “For example, if an iPhone user always messages another person via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp, rather than iMessage. It will decide which service to use based on interactions with specific contacts. Developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps. This will be expanded later to phone apps for calls as well.”
This means that in the future, if you ask Siri to send a message, for example, it will default to the messaging app that you use the most, rather than defaulting to iMessage.
Developers will need to enable the new functionality in their apps themselves. So, we won’t see the change right away across all third-party messaging apps — support for calling services will come later.
Apple is already taking steps to allow Siri to work better with third-party music apps. The latest beta version of Spotify includes the ability to play songs, albums, and playlists from Siri.
As Gurman notes, the company’s change in approach comes as Apple is facing scrutiny over the competitive implications of its dual role as app maker and App Store gatekeeper in the US and elsewhere.