Apple Plans to Allow Siri to Default to Frequently-Used Third-Party Messaging Apps Later This Year

Apple plans to release a software update later this year that will make Siri more flexible with third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger, the company told Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

siri waveform
Specifically, the update will enable Siri to default to the messaging app that a person uses most frequently to communicate with a given contact. For example, if an iPhone user almost always messages a friend via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically use WhatsApp rather than Apple's own iMessage.

It will still not be possible to straight-up set third-party apps as default on an iPhone. Instead, the report claims Siri will decide which messaging app to use based on interactions with specific contacts. App Store developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps when available.

Currently, users must specify the third-party app they wish to use to message someone, such as "message John with WhatsApp." Following the software update, a user could simply say "message John" and Siri would automatically know to do so via WhatsApp if it is the most frequently used app in that case.

This functionality will later be expanded to third-party phone apps for calls as well, but no timeframe was specified.

In a statement, Apple also defended the competitive landscape of the App Store in response to another Bloomberg story claiming that Apple's default apps have a growing edge over third-party options in the App Store:

Apple offers our users an experience that is only possible from the integration of hardware, software, and services. From the very first iPhone, we have included apps to provide customers with a great experience right out of the box for making phone calls, playing music, surfing the web, and more. With every generation of iPhone we have advanced the built in capabilities for our customers with a few default apps designed for great performance, long battery life, seamless integration, and industry-leading protections for security and privacy. We have also created the App Store, the safest place to get apps, so customers can choose from millions of apps to find the ones that further enhance their iPhone. In the few categories where Apple also has an app, we have many successful competitors and we're proud that their success is responsible for almost 2 million U.S. jobs in a thriving multibillion dollar market for developers. Our North Star is always to create the best products for our customers and that is why iPhone has the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.

Apple added that the Stories tab in the App Store has exclusively promoted Apple's own software only one percent of the time.

Top Rated Comments

hortod1 Avatar
26 months ago
Cool! Now all my whatsapp friends can also get nonsensical gibberish when I try to reply to something via CarPlay
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
26 months ago
On a recent Vergecast podcast with John Gruber Nilay Patel was arguing that iMessage was anti-competitive because it isn’t on all platforms. But the only argument he made was when he’s on a group text and someone comes through as a green bubble it causes anxiety. WTF? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. But The Verge has been pushing this for a while now, writing stories about how green bubble friends feel inferior and other nonsense.

iMessage not being on Android isn’t anti-competitive. What would be anti-competitive is not allowing competing messaging platforms on iOS, and that’s not the case. And with this Siri change it will be even harder to claim anti-competitive. My guess is allowing iOS users to choose default apps will be coming soon as well.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dwalls90 Avatar
26 months ago
Would be great if this functionality is expanded to other app types, like music (e.g. Spotify).
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
i hate phones Avatar
26 months ago
do maps next!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Razeus Avatar
26 months ago
Apple is doing this because they are feeling the breath of anti-trust on their neck.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
moabal Avatar
26 months ago
This is a step in the right direction. As someone who uses the Outlook e-mail app by default on my iPhone/iPad/Mac, this is welcome.

Hope to see more integration with third party software in the future.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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