New report details Siri API, Apple’s Google Now, ‘Browse Around Me’ in Maps and more iOS 9 stuff

There is a lot going into the future of iOS, and one of those things could make Siri, and Spotlight Search, a true rival to Google’s digital assistant, Google Now.

The report indicating the future of Siri and Spotlight was recently published by 9to5Mac, and suggests that Apple is almost prepared to rollout a new initiative focused on iOS called “Proactive.” With this movement, Apple will be leveraging a wide assortment of Apple’s own features, including Siri, Contacts, Passbook, Calendar and even third-party apps to provide up-to-date information, resources and more when the user needs it.

The way it’s supposed to work, you’d point your iPhone’s camera toward a particular business or an area and Maps would put up relevant information such as a virtual view of menu items or daily specials, 9to5Mac said Wednesday.

According to the report, the work on Proactive began around 2013, when Apple picked up the personal assistant app, Cue (for a rumored $40 million). As such, and with the work already in place, the inclusion of Wikipedia results within the Spotlight search results was the first indicator of Proactive’s future arrival. The idea was to continue to lessen iOS’s reliance on Google Search, and indeed, Apple has been working away from Google for quite some time.

Practive will effectively replace Spotlight on iOS devices in the future, and will become another layer of the OS proper, indicating a deep level of integration with the mobile platform as a whole.

Right now, Spotlight is accessed by sliding a finger down on the Home screen, so that the search option slides down form the top of the display. Before this implementation, though, Apple had the Spotlight search to the left of the first Home screen, with an obvious indicator that the page was always there for easy accessibility. According to the report, Apple will go back to this layout with Proactive, as internal results show that Spotlight is not accessed all that often, especially with no indicator that it’s available. At the same time, though, the report also suggests it could retain this feature, but also have that further-most left page also available.

Augmented reality maps
Apple is said to be building its own point-of-interest system for Proactive, with two new features in tow: an augmented reality view for local listings and a feature dubbed Browse Around Me.

As mentioned before, the augmented reality feature would let you hold up your iPhone in the Apple Maps application on iOS 9 and receive relevant information about points of interest seen through the handset’s camera.

“Pointed towards a cafe, for example, the screen could show a virtual view of menu items or daily specials,” 9to5Mac claims. “If the user points her phone toward a street, a virtual outline of local businesses, restaurants, shopping stores, or coffee shops could appear.”

The new Browse Around Me button should take you to “a less flashy version of the augmented reality feature” similar to what Spotsetter used to offer. The map view in Browse Around Me mode is said to take cues from your previous searches and personal preferences.

Apple will also be focusing on Siri, other than giving the digital personal assistant a makeover, and launching a service for developers called “Breadcrumbs.” Breadcrumbs will allow Proactive and Siri to index certain apps on the user’s phone, which will then let the user access certain areas of an app faster and more easily. As an example in the report, if a user watches a certain genre of movies within the Netflix app more often than any other, then Siri could be asked to open that specific genre within the Netflix app, without having to simply just open Netflix and navigate to the area manually.

Lastly, the report indicates that all of these new features are coming, but when is still up in the air. Apparently several different Apple executives are still hesitant about the rollout of Proactive, as well as other aforementioned features, simply because the update to iOS 9 is meant to focus on software improvements and optimizations behind the scenes, and that a huge rollout like this could impede that investment and implementation. As it stands, the report indicates that these new features might not be unveiled at WWDC this year, which takes place at the beginning of June.


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