Siri, Apple’s digital voice assistant, might be getting a much need makeover at the company’s developer conference next month. In its responses about the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference, Siri is strongly hinting at new features coming to the assistant.
WWDC 2018 is scheduled for next month, and if you ask Siri about the developer conference then it throws up responses hinting at a software update, and a new default voice. It also hints at getting a new home, which could be the rumored cheaper version of HomePod with Beats branding. The response from Siri revealing details of WWDC were first spotted by ApplePost, which subsequently shared screenshots detailing how Apple might refresh Siri this year.
Apple got a headstart in the race to create a digital assistant when it launched Siri alongside the iPhone 4S in 2011. However, Siri seems to have fallen behind Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa in the digital assistant race. Apple has expanded Siri’s availability beyond iPhone and iPad by bringing it to Mac and HomePod. However, it has limited integration with third-party apps and its functionalities are vastly limited when compared to Alexa or Google Assistant.
Among new capabilities, Siri seems to be getting a new voice, which could mean the default female voice by Susan Bennett being supplemented by a male voice. The introduction of new voice could be an attempt to counter Google, which added six new voices to Google Assistant at I/O early this month, and also announced plans to bring the voice of singer John Legend. Amazon’s Alexa, though comes with default voice of a female, and includes an option to choose from a male-sounding voice option.
Siri definitely needs work and has been found to struggle understanding natural language commands. It is also very particular about accents, which tends to change depending on the region. Some of the most loyal Apple customers have noted that it is difficult to have natural conversation with the AI assistant.
At WWDC 2018, Apple might also introduce a $199 HomePod with Beats branding, which will again be powered by Siri. The cheaper HomePod could be Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Echo, which starts at $99 and Google Home priced at $129. It is not clear whether the cheaper version of HomePod will compromise on audio quality, but it could be Apple’s attempt to catch up with Amazon and Google.
Watch: Amazon Echo Spot First Look
Last week, Strategy Analytics reported that Apple HomePod accounted for just six percent market share in the global smart speaker market. It noted that Amazon’s Echo devices accounted for 81 percent of all smart speakers sold globally. The smart speaker is seen as the next big growth segment in the smart home market, and Siri needs to new features if Apple plans to compete with its much established rivals.