Apple has announced a new version of Siri with many new features in iOS 9. Siri can now show recent photos, create reminders about web pages and other in-app content, detect when you get in your car, and features a new UI inspired by the Apple Watch.
The new system can also automatically look up unknown numbers through your email to figure out who is calling, and show information on the lock screen that fits into your daily routine. It can also automatically show your Now Playing screen on the lock screen when you plug in your headphones.
To make this new version of Spotlight more accessible, Apple has moved it from the top of the home screen back to the left side, past the first home screen. This is where Spotlight previously lived until iOS 7, but many users found the iOS 7 location confusing or didn’t know it existed. In its new (old) location, the feature will hopefully attract more users.
Search on the new Spotlight page can perform calculations and conversions.
Several new widgets have been added to Spotlight just below the search bar to help users track key information, like recent contacts, upcoming calendar events, and Passbook passes. These widgets will often be populated by information that is built by intelligently analyzing users’ appointments and other data. For example, if a user had a movie ticket stored in Passbook, Spotlight could add a section to provide easy access to that ticket before the movie started.
Spotlight can also learn users’ usage habits and help make them more efficient by providing them with information they usually search for at certain times automatically. If a user uses a certain app each day at the same time, Spotlight can pick up on this habit and start giving the user access to that app at that time.
The revamped Spotlight can also take advantage of the user’s location to provide information about points of interest around them.
At the heart of the new Spotlight is a web search function that Apple hopes will help reduce users’ reliance on Google. Apple has been using its own web crawler to build a database of websites and information to use in Safari and Spotlight, and that data will power this new software.
Where the previous Spotlight iteration was able to search Wikipedia and open terms in Safari’s default search engine, Spotlight aims to be a more complete approach that presents results directly in the native interface. Apple has placed a focus on helping users quickly find relevant news stories. Video search has also been added.
This will augment the existing search function, which allows users to search for apps, names, locations, and other information through the built-in applications on iOS.
Apple also announced that as part of the new Spotlight software, third-party apps will now have limited access to Siri. Developers will be able to allow Spotlight to index some information inside their applications to make it searchable, then provide Siri queries that can bring up that data. Siri will also be able to use this information to open to specific parts of the app.