With Shortcuts in iOS 12, Siri is about to get a lot more useful

It’s still trailing Google, but this is an encouraging step forward

Siri is about to get a lot more useful

Siri might get a lot of use - 10 billion requests a month, by Apple's count - but we wish it was more useful. At WWDC 2018, Apple revealed Siri is in line for an upgrade with iOS 12, making the assistant more of, well, an assistant.

The headline new feature is called Shortcuts, which gives any app quick access to Siri, making it more useful across the board. With iOS 12 you'll be able to create custom commands that work with those apps. So, for example, should you lose your keys and you have a key-tracking Tile device, you can set it up so you tell Siri “I lost my keys” and it will alert the Tile keychain to start ringing.

This will also let you carry out multiple actions with a single utterance, something you can already do with Alexa's and Google Assistant's Routines.

Read this: Essential Siri commands to know

All of this works with the HomePod and Apple Watch as well as the iPhone, which will make Siri more helpful around the house. It will also work with Siri's Suggestions feature, which factors in your day’s schedule and offer up suggestions on your lock screen throughout the day. For example, if it sees that you’re on your way to a meeting, it might suggest you drop a message to say you’re running late, or offer a button to dial into the conference.

iOS 12 will come with a tool called Shortcuts Editor, which will let you drag and drop in various apps and actions you want to be prompted with voice. For example, you could set up a Shortcut for telling Siri you're "heading home" and it'll warm up the thermostat and text your significant other to let them know you're on your way.

Apple is trying to catch Google's lead here. It’s not controversial to say that Siri is behind Assistant and, to some extent, Alexa, but this is an encouraging step forward for Apple. Especially as it will make the HomePod much better when it comes to smarts outside of music - something it’s sorely lacking right now.

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