iOS 10| The Developer’s Perspective: The Sirikit
Apple made waves yet again with the launch of the iPhone 7 , the AppleWatch 2 and the all pervasive iOS 10.The Apple fans are going gaga over the sleek design and writing obituaries for the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The Apple critics are trolling their ear-pods and the ‘best ever’ iPhone. But there’s a rather introverted specie of the X-code developers that’s secretly celebrating the power Apple has rendered them by opening up Siri to tweaks and modifications for third party apps.
Apple has indeed made an effort to cut down the snobbery and exclusivity, allowing users to remove ( technically hide) built in apps and opening up Siri to developers so the voice search can do more than just operating the in built features and Safari searches. Your apps need not just a patch but a good upgrade to truly exploit the superpowers of the new SiriKit.
Are your apps ready for the new Siri?
SiriKit supports services in the following domains:
- Audio and video calls
- Sending or receiving payments
- Searching photos
- Booking a ride
- Managing workouts
- Adjusting settings in a CarPlay-enabled vehicle (automotive vendors only)
- Making restaurant reservations (requires additional support from Apple)
For now, apps such as Uber, Didi(China),Lyf, WeChat, Whatsapp, Eye em, Printerest, Map My run , Runtastic can be operated with Siri.
Listing Your App’s ‘Intent’in iOS 10 :
So how do you ensure app engagement? How do you make sure that a search that is relevant to your app or a service that you are providing doesn’t go to a browser and then to some random web service? Simple enough you list down your app’s intent.
Yes, it is as simple as it sounds. SiriKit provides a mechanism to tell the system about the activities that can occur within your app. It defines an interaction object, which combines an intent with information about the intent-handling process.
These details include the start time and duration of a specific occurrence of the process. The intent name is matched to the user’s need and the system can launch your app with an interaction object containing that intent.
The Apple Sirikit documentation states:
“iOS 10 introduces a differentially private way to help improve the ranking of your app’s content in search results. iOS submits a subset of differentially private hashes to Apple servers as users use your app and as NSUserActivity objects that include a deep link URL and have their eligibleForPublicIndexing property set to YES are submitted to iOS. The differential privacy of the hashes allows Apple to count the frequency with which popular deep links are visited without ever associating a user with a link.”
How does it function?
Let’s say the user is looking for a specific restaurant and you are an app in the lifestyle category, enlisting the best restaurants for specific cuisines around you.
So, the user’s intent is to find the ‘nearest Lebanese cuisine restaurant’ and he says it out loud to Siri. Siri with all its sass, will show and tell ‘You may want to check out this app for restaurants serving Lebanese cuisine’. All this if the app developers have used the Intent Framework or Intent UI Framework for app extension and enlisted your service with the system.
While we would have loved to hear that this feature is viable in all utility and services apps, that may not be the case. Even for making the restaurant reservations, you need additional support from Apple (as specified before). For other domains and third party apps the details are still in grey area until researched and experimented upon.
The Message App Search:
In iOS 10, you can create app extensions that interact with the Messages app and let users send text, stickers, media files, and interactive messages. You can also support interactive messages that update as each recipient responds to the message. You can create two types of app extensions:
- A Sticker pack provides a set of stickers that users can add to their Messages content.
- An iMessage app lets you present a custom user interface within the Messages app, create a sticker browser, include text, stickers, and media files within a conversation, and create, send, and update interactive messages.
- An iMessage app can also help users search images that you host on your app’s related website while they’re in the Messages app.
Developers need to use the APIs in the Messages framework (Messages.framework).
How does this work?
This feature doesn’t really apply to a third party native app as of yet but applies only to apple’s messenger, much like the Google Voice search for in app searches in Allo. Say you are typing a message to send and you need to make a quick reference while typing in the contents. While staying on the messenger screen you can ask Siri to make the search and display results without having to switch to a browser.
Transcribing with Siri:
Siri , the adorable personal assistant just got a new job responsibility : Transcribing.
Take a break from all that typing, continuous keystrokes, eye squishing focus on the screen, just sit back and let Siri type in your mails and messages for you.
iOS 10 introduces a new API that supports continuous speech recognition and helps developers build apps that can recognize speech and transcribe it into text. Using the APIs in the Speech framework (Speech.framework), you can perform speech transcription of both real-time and recorded audio.
How does this function?
First of all, transcribing on your phone is a brilliant feature for working professionals. Imagine being able to dictate and shoot a mail by talking to your phone as you line up for your morning Starbucks or while you hail that cab to the next meeting.
All you have to do is :
“Hey Siri , Tell john I’ll be late by five minutes to the meeting scheduled for 5 pm.”
Next thing, Siri is going to shoot john mail or a message with the contents as specified.
But it just doesn’t stop here, pair that with Apple’s universal keyboard and you have us rejoicing at the convenience with which one can transfer all that written matter to any other apple device paired with the iPhone, as simple as – cut, copy and paste.
iOs 10 is going to release on September 13th and should available for download by September 14th.
Stay tuned as we cover Apple and IOT and introduce you to the awesome things that you can do with the Homekit.
iOS 10 will be released as a free upgrade for the following devices:
iPad 4 and later (ie, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (9.7in and 12.9in)
iPad mini 2 and later (iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4)
iPod touch 6th generation
iPhone 5 and later (iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE)
We’ll soon be discussing the general features available to the common user post the release. What all possibilities have you excited ? Tell us in the comments section that follows.
Shubham Sharma is a tech enthusiast & passionate Digital Marketer. He is passionate about technology, internet marketing, content marketing, and writing. He majorly writes about Mobile app development technologies, artificial intelligence, chatbot, customer experience, ios & android app development, process automation and some other interesting areas that keep him rejuvenated.