Each version of iOS brings new features to Siri, Apple’s built-in digital assistant on the iPhone. iOS16 is no different, although the focus this time seems to be a bit different from past updates to Apple’s iPhone software.
Recent iOS updates have included boasts from Apple about how smarter Siri has become and how much more information the assistant can give you. The changes introduced in iOS 16 have a different flavor though, with Siri turning inward. This time around, the digital assistant changes seemed to be aimed at helping you use your iPhone more efficiently, from enabling shortcuts to improving dictation.
We’ll have to wait until the public beta of iOS 16 arrives in July to see if these new Siri features make the iPhone even more manageable. But thanks to reports from people who have downloaded iOS 16 developer betaat least we know more details about the new things Siri can do in the updated software.
Here’s a look at the biggest changes to Siri in iOS 16.
Perhaps the biggest addition to Sir that Apple is touting is the ability to run shortcuts for an app using Siri voice commands as soon as you install the app in question. This eliminates the need to configure the shortcut in iOS 16.
Prior to iOS 16, app makers could include so-called App Intents that could be used to automate tasks, but users had to head to the Shortcuts app to create those automations themselves. A new App Intents API for developers gives app makers greater flexibility to create shortcuts in their apps that are now immediately available.
What interests me is how easy it is to discover these out-of-the-box shortcuts. A possible answer could be found in a redesign of the iOS 16 Shortcuts app that adds a new App Shortcuts section, listing exactly which apps have which shortcuts. Presumably, the suggested shortcuts will also appear as Siri Suggestions when you head to your iPhone’s search screen.
2. Dictate emojis with Siri when composing messages
It’s a fool Android users with Pixel 6 phones already enjoybut emojis will no longer bother Siri when dictating messages in iOS 16. Say “heart emoji” or “crying emoji,” and the appropriate symbol will appear.
It’s not just emoji that Siri can easily handle. The digital assistant also automatically inserts punctuation when you dictate messages by inserting periods at the end of sentences.
Improved dictation features work in both Messages and Mail.
3. Improved Siri Skill Discovery
One of my longstanding complaints about Apple’s digital assistant is that it’s hard to figure out exactly what Siri can do. Even though we would like to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the different skills and commands of Siri, sometimes it is difficult to remember what this assistant is capable of.
iOS solves this with a new feature that lets you simply ask Siri what it can do for you. You’ll be able to ask “Hey Siri, what can I do here” in specific apps to learn more about Siri’s capabilities. If the feature works as advertised, it promises to make Siri’s various functions much less opaque than they have been in the past.
4.Hands-free hang up for phone calls
When you’re wearing a pair of AirPods, Siri can announce incoming calls and even offer to pick up the phone for you. When it’s time to end the call, however, you’ve been on your own.
This changes in iOS 16, with phone calls being completely hands-free. You’ll now be able to tell Siri to hang up during phone calls or FaceTime sessions, and the assistant will. If there’s a downside to this new feature, it’ll be that whoever’s on the other end of the line will apparently hear you telling Siri what to do. So it seems like a Siri skill to use only in certain situations.
5. Control more things with Siri offline
iPhones with enough processing power have been able to use Siri even when there is no internet or network connectivity to perform simple tasks. These include launching apps, controlling playback, and setting timers or alarms.
The list of functions Siri can perform without any connectivity grows in iOS 16. Specifically, Siri will be able to handle home control requests through HomeKit devices, intercom functionality, voicemail, and offline notifications. . You will need a phone with an A12 Bionic chipset, which means a iPhone XS or later, for this kind of functionality.
6. Siri-Powered Accessibility Features
As we noted in our look at Hidden Features of iOS 16, you’ll be able to adjust Siri’s pause time, which will make the assistant wait longer before responding to what you say. The feature is great for anyone with a speech impediment, but it’s definitely something that will benefit anyone who hates feeling rushed when sending commands to Siri.
Adjusting break times is just one of many accessibility features in iOS 16 that involve Siri. If you have a Made for Apple hearing aid, you’ll be able to ask Siri to announce notifications from your iPhone and iPad with the iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates.
As part of iOS 16’s enhanced mobility features, you’ll also be able to ask Siri to turn auto-answer mode on and off for phone calls and FaceTime requests. And of course, we’ve already noted that you can ask Siri to hang up phone calls, a nice addition for hands-free iPhone use.
7. Automatically send SMS
Currently, when you dictate an SMS via Siri, the assistant asks you if you are ready to send the message. I find it to be a good protection when driving in my car, as Siri doesn’t always catch my words perfectly. However, if you prefer to send messages quickly, you can ask Siri to skip this step in iOS 16.
A Send Messages Automatically toggle will be available in iOS 16’s Siri and Search settings. It’s off by default, but if you’re sure Siri will relay your message accurately, you can always turn it on. There’s a short wait in case you want to edit your message after all, but otherwise Siri will send that text right away.
8. Siri Links with Other iOS 16 Changes
One of the big changes in iOS 16 Maps is the ability to add multiple stops to a route when you need to stop for things like gas and food in the middle of a road trip. If you need a hands-free way to add a stop along the way, you can ask Siri to handle it for you.
After iOS 16 ships in the fall, a subsequent update will bring support for Matter, the smart home connectivity standard that promotes smart device interoperability. When Matter support comes to iOS 16, you’ll be able to control Siri-enabled devices.
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