At WWDC earlier this summer, Apple announced that iOS 10 would bring a host of new features to its Siri virtual assistant, the biggest of which being integration with third-party applications. With the public launch of iOS 10 nearing, Nathan Olivarez-Giles of the WSJ has had an opportunity to go hands-on with the more capable and more powerful Siri, calling it a “long-overdue” enhancement…

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The report details Siri’s third-party integration with apps that relate to mobile payments, image search, and messaging. Apple in the past has detailed the six types of applications that will be supported by Siri: ride booking, messaging, photo search, payments, VoIP calling, and workouts.

For instance, saying “Siri, send Catherine $20 for lunch with Cash” would prompt a card to appear in the Siri interface itself confirming the transaction, followed by a Touch ID prompt.

For messaging, Giles was able to use integration with LinkedIn to quickly send a message by saying, “Hey Siri, send Jim Gonzalez a message in LinkedIn.” While Siri has long integrated with iMessage for quick communication, third-party app support will be huge for users of services like WhatsApp.

Showcasing another strong point of Siri’s third-party app integration, Giles told Siri to “show me photos of what Kanye West wore to the VMA awards this year in Looklive.” This command prompted Siri to display images of what West wore to the event accompanied with quick links to purchase the clothing.

Overall, Giles remarked that using Siri to perform basic tasks was “quicker than launching the app and carrying out the task with your fingers,” while also noting that it’s a change that will “make Siri more useful in everyday life.”

Today’s hands-on also offered more detail into what apps will support Siri integration at launch:

For chat: LinkedIn, WhatsApp, WeChat and Slack. If you can’t remember someone’s full name, Siri can help. For example, say “Hey Siri, I want to send Michael a LinkedIn message,” and Siri will list all the Michaels you’re connected to in that network, and ask you which one you meant.

For mobile payments: Square Cash and Monzo. Square Cash lets you use Siri to send money to people in your iPhone’s contact list, and ask those people for money, too. In both instances, the final step is Siri asking you to scan your fingerprint on the iPhone’s home-button TouchID sensor, so your friends (or enemies) can’t just grab your phone and ask it to send them your money.

 For photo search: Pinterest, Vogue Runway, Looklive, The Roll and Pikazo. Once the photo-search results show up, you can tap any thumbnail to open the related app. Photo-search commands can include contents of the images, as well as when they were taken. For instance: “Hey Siri, show me my best photos of sunsets taken last summer using The Roll?”

It’s no secret that Siri greatly needed a kick in the pants as more capable artificial intelligent assistants emerge from companies like Google and Microsoft, as well Siri’s own original creators.

Siri has long been criticized for taking an approach too focused on humor and witty responses rather than actual functionality. With iOS 10 slated to bring more capabilities to the assistant, will you finally take advantage? Let us know in the comments.

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