Siri in OS X: When Will We See It?

Siri is available on the iPhone and iPad, and is rumored to be heading to the Apple TV, but when will we see it in OS X on Macs?

Siri is Apple’s voice recognition personal assistant on iPhone and iPad that allows users to execute commands by voice. It aims at being a hands-free solution for navigating your iPhone or iPad and — at times — doing those things quicker than you could with your own fingers.

It was first introduced in iOS 5 alongside the launch of the iPhone 4s back in 2011. Since then, Apple’s virtual assistant spread to the iPad and is available on all iOS devices except for the Apple TV, but it’s heavily rumored to arrive on Apple’s set-top streaming box later this year when a new model is expected to release.

However, OS X is one platform that Apple has yet to support when it comes to Siri, and considering that voice control is becoming more and more of a thing, it makes sense for Macs to have Siri capabilities, either now or in the near future.

Siri

Google Chrome on the desktop now includes voice search and Microsoft is bringing its Siri competitor Cortana to Windows 10. At this point, there’s nothing stopping Apple from bringing Siri to Macs, other than finding a good way to implement it into OS X. I say this because Apple is notorious for waiting to release features until they’re actually ready for primetime.

OS X already has a couple of voice-activated features that Siri could expand on, the most popular being voice dictation, which allows you to speak words instead of typing them out. This feature alone is a big feature of Siri on iOS, considering that longer typing sessions on the iPhone’s small virtual keyboard aren’t ideal, which makes the speech-to-text feature in Siri really handy on the iPhone.

As for how Apple could implement Siri into OS X, it could either blend in to OS X’s dictation feature, or be added into Spotlight Search.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.14.07 PM

With OS X’s dictation feature, users press the Function key twice to bring it up, and then they can speak into the Mac’s microphone and have it translated into text, making it easier to “type” longer responses or jot down notes.

If Siri was implemented into Spotlight Search, it would simply overhaul Spotlight Search even more. It’s already a one-stop shop for searching pretty much anything on your Mac, as well as on the internet, but with Siri integrated into it, it would arguably become one of the best features of not only OS X, but any operating system.

Furthermore, Apple could implement its new “Hey, Siri” feature so that you wouldn’t even have to press a keyboard combination to activate it. You could simply yell out “Hey, Siri” and then give it a command, right on your Mac.

Of course, while Siri functionality on Mac would be cool to see, not everyone agrees that it would work well. One Mac user argues:

Indeed, bringing Siri capabilities to OS X may not be high on Apple’s priority list, and it could introduce some confusion. Apple is not one to make their products more confusing to consumers, but it’s also a company that does fairly well at finding simpler solutions for complex problems. Just look at Apple Pay: mobile payments used to be fairly confusing, or at least not many consumers understood the technology, but Apple made it simpler and easier to understand with Apple Pay.

If Siri on Mac would possibly introduce confusion for consumers, Apple would most likely find a way to make it simpler and easier to use. However, we wouldn’t expect Apple to introduce Siri in OS X until at least June when WWDC rolls around, which is usually when Apple unveils a new version of their desktop operating system. So we’ll stay tuned then and cross our fingers.

6 Comments

  1. Charles R.

    06/11/2015 at 11:41 am

    After seeing what I’m seeing in OS X 10.11, I’m making a prediction, Siri should arrive or be close to being release in by 10.12 or 13. I made a discovery today in the accessibility panel under dictation. The ability to evoke dictation by a key word or phrase. The default is currently set to “Computer”, but you could use any word or phrase, like Jarvis or Hey Siri.

    This function wasn’t available in OS X Yosemite and pulled when speech recognition was pulled out of the OS prior to Mavericks. This along with the deep links now in Spotlight leads me to believe we should see Siri on the desktop in a few revisions of the OS.

    I think Apple is working on the underlying pinnings for Siri, my guess modeled after Siri/Proactive in iOS 9. Thoughts?

    Reply

  2. MakingGoodCents

    07/20/2015 at 5:28 pm

    How hard could it be to make this update? without being a programmer myself, i do feel that the update could actually be super easy and fast to make for public release.

    Almost willing to bet it could be done in under 2 hours of actual desk work.

    Anyone have a better understanding of what it takes and how long it takes and why its taking so long?

    Reply

    • John

      08/06/2015 at 6:05 pm

      Lets make the assumption that the core Siri engine can be executed on OS X without major changes. So it can take audio clips and send them to the server and receive responses, and understand what the user is asking.

      Now this needs to be connected to OS X’s hardware, specifically the microphone. Likely the OS provides some way to do this. Although there may need to be some changes to OS X to make this automatic, and to allow you to ask Siri something without losing the microphone feed to Skype or whatnot.

      Now a interface is needed for Siri. A visual way to show the input Siri understood, and the output/information it provides. This likely needs to be done from scratch, as the existing UI elements are designed for mobile, and use iOS’s framework. Then ways to activate siri need to be introduced (hotkeys, “hey siri”, a button on the dock or taskbar).

      Now you can ask Siri things, and she can reply. But if you ask her to schedule an appointment, nothing happens because Siri has not been integrated into the OS X platform and applications. So this must be done, as well as any new types of commands Siri must support for the desktop environment. This is probably the most difficult task of porting Siri to OS X. It will also require updates to all of OS X’s core applications to support interaction with Siri. So Siri can ask for information from these applications, and so Siri can control these applications.

      Now probably a programming interface needs to be created so that 3rd party programs can integrate into Siri as well, although this is something Apple probably wouldn’t create for the first release. Although they would have needed something like it to integrate Siri into their own applications in a consistent way.

      All of this must go through design, development, testing, debugging, verification, user studies, etc etc.

      So I would estimate more on the scale of thousands of work-hours (of course, spread over many employees).

      Reply

  3. raketemensch

    07/28/2015 at 9:22 am

    Hey look, clickbait! At the top of google searches too, nice. What a ridiculous article.

    Reply

    • vanitylicenseplate

      09/12/2015 at 2:27 pm

      How is it clickbait? Asking when we’ll see something is not the same as proclaiming “Siri is coming soon to OS X!!”

      I think you might a bit confused.

      Reply

  4. ROB

    07/08/2016 at 10:47 am

    Um….. I am on the macOS 10.12 Sierra Beta and it has SIRI

    Reply

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