Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Siri takes control as Apple's macOS Sierra beta arrives

Michael deAgonia | July 8, 2016
Mac users get a desktop OS they can talk to

It's been five years since Siri's introduction on the iPhone. Since then, public acceptance of using voicing commands to control a device has slowly been on the rise. Amazon, Google and Microsoft all have virtual assistants now, and, for Apple's part, the Siri technology has been expanding the use of voice commands in a variety of devices. Siri has bounced from the iPhone to the iPad to Apple TV and CarPlay. If history is any indicator -- and by history, I mean Apple's other product releases -- Siri integration will absolutely change how you interact with the Mac -- even if you're still not sold on voice interaction.

Why? Because over the years, Siri has learned platform-specific tricks that make interacting with devices much more effective. For instance, when Siri is prompted on the Apple TV for a specific show, Siri searches across all supported apps and displays the relevant results, saving you the trouble of opening and poking around for that specific show. And on Apple TV, rewinding and fast-forwarding to specific spots isn't much of an issue when you can tell Siri to just skip back or ahead with your voice.

Siri will be no different. It's still as whimsical as it is on the iPhone (ask how it feels about living in a Mac and Siri might joke about living in an aluminum housing with no Windows). But there are a variety of new tricks that should be helpful for day to day users.

siri prefs

Siri's new Preference pane under System Preferences allows you to customize it and change voices.

Siri in use

On the Mac, Siri is accessed from an icon in the Dock, by invoking a key command (Command-Space, by default) or from the menubar, next to the Notification and Spotlight icons. (The "Hey, Siri" voice invocation used in iOS - where Siri is always listening and can respond -- isn't yet an option on the desktop.)

siri weather Michael deAgonia

Siri can quickly deliver the latest weather forecast.

Once active, you can use Siri to create appointments and reminders, send messages, ask for current or future weather forecasts, play a specific song (or an entire album or playlist), check sports scores, or even ask for directions. All of these requests work just as expected. However, I did have trouble getting Siri to bring up photos in my Photo Library, but I'm chalking this up as a bug. (Remember, as I've already noted: using a beta, even a public one, means you will likely encounter issues.)

Siri still provides online and local searches, and when performing local searches, it recognizes Finder tags, dates and other attributes. That allows you to perform specific inquiries you'd normally turn to Spotlight for. Since Siri does a decent job following a particular train of thought, you can refine searches with follow-up questions or requests. Just don't be surprised if you get the occasional Siri sass. (During the WWDC keynote, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, asked Siri to bring up some files he was looking for and she noted that his "data filin' was stylin'.")


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.