Apple’s WWDC 21 kicked off last night and brought with a flurry of announcements regarding iOS 15, iPadOS 15, new privacy tools and enhancements to Siri. As it pertains to Apple’s digital assistant, it is finally being made available for third party devices, as well as being able to work sans an internet connection in the future.
Regarding the former announcement, Apple confirmed in its keynote that Siri voice control will be added to third party devices later in the year thanks to the HomeKit solution being made available to accessory manufacturers. There is, however, one important caveat as the integration will only work if you have a HomePod speaker and the third party device in question is connection to the same network as the smart speaker.
We could see greater integration down the line then, with Apple confirming that it will soon support Matter. For those unfamiliar, it is an interoperability standard that also has the likes of Amazon, Google and Samsung in its fold, which means the addition of Apple brings all the major digital assistant providers onboard. It is important to note though, that the Matter support is only from iOS 15 onwards for now.
As for the other Siri-related announcement from WWDC 21, iOS 15 will also see the digital assistant support on-device speech recognition. This will arrive via on update for the mobile operating system, and is said to make Siri far faster that previous generations. It also means the digital assistant will be able to operate without the need to be connected to WiFi or broadband in order to function.
The addition of this function should hopefully address some of the privacy concerns that have surrounded Siri on the post, with the most notable being audio scrubbing that happened without the knowledge or consent of Apple users.
“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,” noted Apple in a press release.
“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,” it added.
That said, this functionality is for iOS only, so it remains to be seen how privacy would be addressed on a Mac device for example.