Why Brands Can't Ignore Siri on iOS 12

For all of the announcements delivered at WWDC this year, the majority of brands should be champing at the bit for one major change to the Apple ecosystem—Siri is getting a lot smarter.

Before iOS 12, Siri’s functionality was limited mostly to Apple/developed apps (“Hey Siri, create a reminder to go find Barb in the upsidedown”) and a few apps that matched a limited set of intents, like hailing a ride or making P2P payments. With iOS 12, Apple is making it possible for virtually iOS developer to work with Siri.

Siri may not be the most universally beloved voice-based assistant on the market, but the assistant’s capabilities are deeply embedded in the Apple software ecosystem. And if WWDC gave us any indication about Siri’s future, this integration isn’t going away anytime soon. If anything, Siri is quickly becoming the most important feature of iOS. Brands that have previously ignored Siri must begin paying attention to the value Siri brings to their iOS products and to their customers.

Going forward, Apple wants to position Siri to become the most important feature of iOS.

Here’s what your brand needs to know about Siri and how you can begin working with Siri on iOS 12 before it’s too late.

Is Your Brand Ready for iOS 12?

As with every major iOS release, you can expect the vast majority of your customers will be running iOS 12 on their iPhones and iPads this fall. And, with the new software release just weeks away, app developers have already started adding iOS 12 support into their apps. By September, you should expect that most of your competition has not only updated their apps to be bug-free on the new OS, but has also upgraded these apps to showcase Apple’s newest features, including the new Siri capabilities.

With Siri, being a first mover may actually be a bigger deal than most brands realize. iOS users will have some control over the voice prompts they use to trigger apps using Siri,  it brands that fail to roll out Siri support soon won’t even be part of the consideration set. There are only so many ways to say, “Hey, Siri, I’d like to book a hotel.” Customers who have competing apps installed on their devices will be more inclined to use the ones that support the latest iOS features and make completing their tasks easier than before.

Luckily, beta versions of iOS 12 are available for developers and public download, and strategy-centric software development agencies (like Punchkick) have already started testing and developing for the new operating system’s launch.

Every Brand Can Now Use Siri

If your brand has a native iOS app, you can now integrate it with Siri. While this is great news, there are a few caveats you should be aware of before kicking off development.

First, it’s unlikely that users will be able to access and engage with your app using Siri in the same ways they can with Apple-developed apps today (think Messages, Reminders, and Podcasts). These apps have been tied closely to Siri for year now, and Siri’s control over them is simply more complex than you’ll be able to create before the iOS 12 rollout.

That doesn’t mean you can’t develop engaging, useful, and helpful features that take advantage of Siri, though. To do this well, you’ll need to identify in-app actions your users find most valuable and return to engage with repeatably. Tasks like creating to-do list items, making a payment, or viewing specific in-app content are all valuable use cases that can respond well to voice-based commands. By allowing your users to launch specific actions with their voice, you can significantly reduce the friction tied to manually launching an app and navigating to the desired end point. At Punchkick, we start this decision-making process with analytics and validate our decisions with usability research before spending time and money on development.

Second, Siri is much more than a voice-activated assistant. With iOS 12, the ecosystem is becoming smarter at predicting the apps and app activities that are most useful for individual users. As you use your phone, Siri learns bits and pieces about your behavior, habits and patterns. Over time, the system will begin to proactively suggest tasks you might find useful in the moment. I’ve been using the iOS 12 public beta for a few weeks now, and Siri has already helped me call into meetings I’d forgotten about just in the nick of time. Spotlight search has also a lot gotten smarter. In addition to recommending app it thinks I might want to use, Spotlight has also started recommending specific in-app actions, like messaging a certain person.

For brands who want their app to become a more organic part of the user’s device experience, you should know this predictive functionality doesn’t come out of the box. You’ll need to do some development to ensure Siri is able to analyze usage of your app and suggest actions users should be taking within it.

Shortcuts Put Users in Control

One of the most interesting announcements from WWDC is Apple’s development of the new app Shortcuts. Most conversations about artificial intelligence focus on how a machine can learn about the behaviors of users and create personalized experiences for those users based on what it’s learned. In this conversation, the machine has control over the experience. With Shortcuts, control over Siri rests in the hands of the user. That’s because the new Shortcuts app lets iOS users to create their own voice-based prompts to launch apps and accomplish specific tasks in those apps.

For brands that want to get in on the action and provide suggested shortcuts to their users, development will be required similar to what we discussed above.

Brands that Start Early Have the Best Odds of Success

Siri may not dominate the hours spent by iOS users on their devices. However, ask any iPhone user how they’ve used Siri in the past and you’re likely to find at least one use case that’s invaluable for their daily flow. For me, it’s sending hands-free messages, scheduling future reminders, and creating new notes when I’m in a hurry. If you give users a quality interaction and continue to support that experience in the future, you’ll create a cohort of intensely loyal users willing to tell the story of your products to others.

But, with the barriers to entry already so low, the competition to gain new voices will be intense this fall. If your brand hasn’t charted a course to developing a seamless voice-centric user experience, send us an email today and ask us how we can drive your app to be a leader in your industry.