Apple Could Be Making Siri Easier To Use

Talking to Siri is about to get a tad less frustrating, as Apple reportedly drops the "Hey" part from the "Hey Siri" hotword for summoning the virtual assistant. The upcoming change is convenient, but Apple is not the first to the party. Amazon's digital assistant fires up with just an "Alexa" command, even though the voice recognition accuracy is still not the best and it often wakes up accidentally in the Amazon Music app while playing songs.

Google made a similar change to its namesake AI assistant earlier this year. You no longer have to repeat the "Hey Google" hotword during back-and-forth conversations involving follow-up questions. The feature works especially well on Google's in-house hardware such as Pixel phones because of on-device processing that reduces latency and doesn't require an internet connection at all times. Amazon has given a similar treatment to its Alexa assistant, too.

In the latest edition of his PowerOn newsletter, Apple's Mark Gurman writes that the company is working on a change that will let users talk to Siri by just saying the name, without having to add a "Hey" before it. Once the change has been implemented, the interaction format switches to something like "Siri, pull up my calendar entries for today."

Quicker conversations, deeper app integration

Apple has reportedly been up to the task for months, as the change requires "a significant amount of AI training and underlying engineering work." The update to Siri's voice command has been under testing among employees, and it is expected to arrive for the millions of Apple device users next year. However, depending on the bulk of engineering hassles at hand, it may very well get pushed to 2024.

The company is working to make sure that the voice assistant is able to pick up the shortened "Siri" voice word when used by people speaking different languages and with varied accents. Siri currently offers support for over 20 languages, while the on-device processing module independent of an internet connectivity can understand English, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Mexican, and Spanish, as per Apple's support document.

Apple is also working to integrate Siri with more third-party apps and services, according to Gurman, drastically boosting its ability to accomplish relevant tasks from within different apps. It would be interesting to see if this change is implemented across all devices uniformly, or if Apple will again keep the advanced features limited to iPhones while the dumber gadgets like speakers get a watered-down treatment.