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Apple's voice assistant joins the laundry list of ways to hail Uber, including Alexa, Facebook, Maps
“Siri, order me an Uber.”
“Starting FaceTime with Dorothy Miller.”
At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple today announced that it is opening up its voice assistant, Siri, to third-party developers. Uber already announced this morning that it would be integrating with the Siri SDK so that its customers can order a car with a simple command.
In a blog post, a spokesperson for Uber wrote:
“Ordering a ride has never been easier. We’re excited to announce that iPhone users will soon be able to use Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant, to request a ride and receive real-time updates. [...] We hope our riders will love these new features, and we look forward to making them available soon.”
Siri will share fare and driver information before confirming the ride request to prevent accidental or erroneous orders. Additionally, iPhone users will also be able to hail a ride directly from Apple Maps after looking up a destination, functionality that has been baked into Google Maps for awhile now. The integration goes deeper with the ability to follow the car’s route on an animated map, to contact the driver or cancel the ride if necessary, and to pay for the ride using Apple Pay.
For Apple, the announcement is somewhat a game of catch-up, as many of its competitors already allowed third-party developers (like Uber) to access and integrate with their devkits. Google Maps is just one example. Earlier this year, Uber also integrated with Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon Echo, for an identical purpose as the Siri announcement: so customers can order a ride through voice. Before that, Uber integrated with Facebook Messenger to make it easy to order a ride within conversations.
After I reached out to Lyft, a spokesperson confirmed for me that they’re introducing the same functionality:
“iOS 10 will make getting a Lyft simpler and more convenient by giving passengers the ability to book a ride by asking Siri or right within Maps. With Siri, when requesting a Lyft, you’ll see the price estimate and information about the driver and quickly confirm your request. With Maps, when you look up a destination, you now have the option to select Lyft to get there."
He also pointed out that Lyft is launching its first Apple Watch app “with a hyper-focused, simple interface” to take advantage of watchOS 3.
Furthermore, Apple’s SVP Craig Federighi suggested ride-booking through Siri would also work with Didi Chuxing. (Uber's chief competitor in China, Didi received a $1 billion investment from Apple in May.)
In other words, whatever your preference of car service (Uber, Lyft, Didi?) and whatever your preferred mode of interaction (phone screen, Siri/Alexa, Apple Watch?), rest assured you can get a car.
It’s not just about the ridesharing services, of course. Apple referenced a ton of different apps that would be integrating with Siri, including Slack, WhatsApp, photo apps, workout apps, payment apps, and more.
Let's just hope it works better than my faux dialogue up top.
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Uber is a ridesharing service headquartered in San Francisco, United States, which operates in multiple international cities. The company uses a smartphone application to arrange rides between riders and drivers.