Why Apple might be working on a “hey Siri” change

CNN business

Apple has announced that it wants to end “Hey”.

The company is reportedly training its voice assistant Siri to receive commands without needing the first half of the sentence “Hey Siri.” The trigger phrase is used to launch Siri on a variety of products, including the iPhone, iPad, HomePod, and Apple Watch.

Bloomberg, which first reported the news, said the change could come next year or as early as 2024. Apple did not return a request for comment from CNN Business.

While the update would appear to be minor, experts say it could indicate more extensive changes are coming and may require extensive artificial intelligence training. Lian Jye Su, director of research at ABI Research, said that having two trigger words allows the system to recognize requests more accurately, so moving to one word would rely on a more advanced AI system.

“In the recognition phase, the system compares the voice command with the model trained by the user,” Su said. “‘Siri’ is much shorter than ‘Hey Siri’, giving the system fewer comparison points and a higher error rate in echoey, large rooms and noisy environments,” such as in a car or when it’s windy.

The move would allow Apple to catch up with Amazon’s “Alexa,” which doesn’t require a wake-up call for its voice assistant. Microsoft moved away from “Hey Cortana” in 2018, and now only allows users to say “Cortana” to their smart speakers. However, “OK Google” is still required for most requests for Google products.

The move away from “Hey Siri” would also come as Apple, Amazon and Google are collaborating on the Matter automation standard, which will allow automation from different vendors and Internet of Things devices to interoperate.

With that in mind, James Sanders, principal analyst at market research firm CCS Insight, said that “redoubled efforts to improve Siri functionality is likely a priority for Apple.”

Siri launched as a standalone iOS app in the Apple App Store in February 2010, before being acquired by the tech giant two months later. The company then integrated Siri into the iPhone 4S, which was released the following year, and introduced the ability to say “Hey Siri” without physically touching a button in 2014.

Siri has gotten smarter over the years, thanks to integration with third-party developers like ride-hailing and payment apps, and follow-up questions, more languages, and different accents. However, the user still has problems with not understanding and responding incorrectly.

“While the ‘Hey Siri’ change requires a lot of work, it would be surprising if Apple announced just this change to Siri,” Sanders said. “Given the timing of the rumors, I would expect this change to be bundled with other new or improved Siri functionality, perhaps a new model of the HomePod and other smart home products via Matter, as a re-introduction to Apple’s voice assistant.”