Apple gets proactive with iOS 9


— 4:46 PM on June 8, 2015

iOS 9 is coming, and major changes are coming with it. In an apparent answer to Google Now, iOS 9 will include some contextual awareness features in Siri and a new Search view on the home screen.

Broadly, iOS 9 will be able to use information about how, where, and when you use your device in order to respond in the right way at the right time. For example, if you're a regular runner and listen to music in the mornings, iOS 9 will cue up some appropriately energetic music when you plug in your headphones. Similarly, connecting to a car audio system on the drive home might bring up an audiobook already in progress.

Other proactive features manifest themselves on the Search screen, accessed by swiping to the left on the home screen. Search automatically populates with recent contacts and apps, including contact info related to upcoming calendar events. Search can also use your location to suggest points of interest and news that's happening in the vicinity.

Siri gets smarter in iOS 9, too. Developers will be able to use a new Siri API to integrate the digital assistant deeply into their apps. For example, if you're trying to return to a particular apple pie recipe that you found in an app, but you can't remember which app, Siri can search through the ones that have implemented the right software hooks.

The assistant can also use information about what you're doing at a given point in time. If you start an email and can't finish it, telling Siri to "remind me about this when I get home" will create a location-dependent reminder about your message.

In keeping with Apple's focus on customer privacy, these new features don't aggregate data about users on Apple servers. Instead, all the collection happens on the device, and the data stays on the device. When Siri has to reach out to the Internet for information, the query is anonymized. Federighi emphasized that Apple doesn't want to know anything about what its customers are doing, and that owners of its devices should be in control of their data.

   
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