Apple Copying Amazon's Alexa With Change to Siri

Apple is working on a major change to Siri that will move away from the "Hey ‌Siri‌" trigger phrase currently required to invoke the virtual assistant hands-free, making it much more like Amazon's Alexa, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

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In a recent edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is working on a way for ‌Siri‌ to be able to understand and respond to commands without the need to use "Hey ‌Siri‌" as a trigger-phrase. Instead, users will simply need to say "‌Siri‌."

The company is working on an initiative to drop the "Hey in the trigger phrase so that a user only needs to say "Siri"—along with a command. While that might seem like a small change, making the switch is a technical challenge that requires a significant amount of AI training and underlying engineering work.

The complexity involves Siri being able to understand the singular phrase "Siri" in multiple different accents and dialects. Having two words — "Hey Siri" — increases the likelihood of the system properly picking up the signal.

The change would bring ‌Siri‌ closer to Amazon's voice assistant, which can be triggered simply by beginning a command with "Alexa." Gurman added that Apple is also working on deeper ‌Siri‌ integrations with third-party apps and services to provide better assistance thanks to additional context.

The changes to ‌Siri‌ are expected to roll out sometime in 2023 or 2024, meaning that they could arrive as soon as this summer with the announcement of iOS 17 at WWDC. ‌iOS 17‌ as a whole may have "fewer major changes than originally planned" due to Apple's focus on the "xrOS" operating system for its AR/VR headset. This could result in the software update having more of an overall focus on bug fixes and stability improvements rather than new features, but the rumored ‌Siri‌ trigger phrase change would be a significant development for the voice assistant and Gurman has suggested that there could still be some surprises on the way.

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