Apple iOS 9: Siri gets 'Proactive' to challenge Google Now

One of the main features of the iOS 9 is Proactive Siri. Yes, Siri has got an update by blending voice assistant with other services such as Spotlight, Calendar and Maps.

Late last month we saw Google's latest Android iteration borrow some features from Apple's iOS and now the newly announced iOS 9 has included some features to compete with Android. One of the main features of the iOS 9 is Proactive Assistant powered by Siri.

Yes, Siri has got an update by blending voice assistant with other services such as Spotlight, Calendar and Maps. The interesting bit is the 'proactive' part that ensures Siri doesn't have to wait till you ask something. It is intelligent to know when you have to leave for a flight or if you always check your Facebook after waking up in the morning. One of the demos showed how when one is viewing an incoming text from a friend that asks to collect/pick something up; Siri lets users easily add a reminder by saying 'Remind me about this later today'. It will also bring the 'Now Playing' option to the homescreen as soon as you plug in the earphones.

Proactive is accomodated on the side of the home screen and will be available with a simple swipe. Basically, it is aware of your activities at all time. Sounds familiar? Yes, it's Apple's answer to Google Now. Just like Google Now, Apple is looking to mine all the useful information just when a user needs it. It will track your apps and searches and pull up all relevant information from apps, maps and contacts. Apple has also included a search API that can pull information from third-party apps. This doesn't mean, Apple takes control of the way you look for content. It doesn't collect any information in the cloud, and all processing is done on the device. All the proactivity is done within Siri and free from identifiers. It isn't linked to any Apple ID or other Apple services and maintains annonymity.

So far, Siri has been able to respond to requests like the 'what's the weather' and other queries. However, it can now pull up information with proactive.

Bringing relevant content to users is something Microsoft's Cortana and Google Now are trying to refine in their latest OS announcements. Evidently, there seems to be a shift of pattern in the way we've been looking at digital assitants so far. Today, content is king, and the companies are striving to bring to you the content you need (read: what they find relevant) even before you ask. This also opens up a huge scope of advertising.

According to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Siri gets a billion requests per week and responds to them with just a 5 percent error rate. While Siri gets more proactive and will be more helpful than better, all this seems a bit irrelevant if you are in India. If you've been using Siri in India, it comes across more of a gimmick and one would find it difficult to get their queries answered accurately. Moreover, Apple's iOS has mere 5 percent share in India and takes the sixth spot among vendors, according to the IDC report for the year 2014. On the other hand, Android dominates the Indian market with over 90 percent market share.

However, Apple’s outlook towards the Indian market has been changing and the company has been aggressively marketing in India since the past few years. "To increase adoption in the price-sensitive market, Apple has also introduced easy financing options that has helped its sales. Apple is also finalising plans to strengthen its presence in India by setting up 500 stores in the country and focusing on smaller towns and cities. Even though India currently contributes around 1 percent in terms of overall global sales for Apple, the favourable demographics and rising spending power has made the country one of the key markets for the company,"  points Sandeep Ladda (Partner and India Technology Sector Leader‎), PwC.

Earlier this year, reports also suggested Apple may add support for Indian accent. This means there could be the possibility of the new features entering the Indian market in the near future. The company has also been striving to increase the life span of its products, especially considering the emerging markets that usually pick Apple products after they've undergone multiple price cuts.

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