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Apple opens up Siri to third-party devs, a gradual erosion of the walled garden

Apple made a definite shift in its media approach with the latest updates to macOS, and its new mobile software is also showing signs of a different perspective. While the Mac update’s audio focus was in streaming, the most recent version of iOS brings more third-party access to the Siri voice assistant.

In fact, Siri received several upgrades in iOS 13. The AI assistant has a new voice that sounds more natural than the initial version. It can also recognize different users making requests of an Apple HomePod, so that requests for favorite songs or podcasts will be tailored to the individual.

But the big shift is a change to SiriKit that allows third-party applications to work with the AI platform. Developers who choose to support it can now add options for their users to interact with the software via Siri.

Spotify has been the most-highlighted integration so far to come out of the SiriKit update. Listeners can now ask Siri to access songs, albums, or playlists in Spotify. It’s an intriguing move, since Apple Music and Spotify are currently such close rivals in both streaming music and podcasts, but it marks a key change in Apple’s attitude.

Apple has long been entrenched as a walled garden. It sells proprietary hardware and makes in-house software and services. The benefit of that approach is greater control over the user experience, and it offers a suite of products that will always work in harmony together.

As more companies have challenged Apple’s position at the top of the tech heap, the company seems more willing to loosen its control on every element of the user experience. In fact, Apple’s biggest leaps forward of late have not been in revolutionary new hardware, but in subtler, less flashy fields such as augmented reality and privacy protections. Letting people take advantage of those features, where it still is one of the top innovators, could be a long-term play to transform more people into Apple customers.

Anna Washenko

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