Inside macOS Sierra: Siri on the desktop

Posted:
in Mac OS X edited September 2016
Heralded at the 2016 WWDC, Apple has brought its Siri voice assistant technology to MacOS Sierra, which even in its first incarnation on the desktop brings a wealth of possibilities for workflow expansion and knowledge navigation.




Hey Siri... Siri?



Siri isn't constantly listening to the user like it can on iOS, nor is there a setting to allow it to do so in Sierra -- and this is a good thing. Users can easily bring up the function with a keystroke, by clicking on the menu bar, or invoking the feature through the dock icon.




The internal microphone isn't Siri's only input option. Users can select which input device to use for Siri in the control pane for Siri. AppleInsider has tested USB microphones, as well as Bluetooth devices and while we slightly prefer a USB external just based on our setup, none of the mics we tested performed any better or any worse.

Macs have access to everything that Siri allows on iOS. Above and beyond what Apple has already demonstrated, Siri's menus provide a list of sample queries for the assistant, including setting reminders, browsing photos, Apple Music functions, induction of FaceTime calls, making restaurant reservations, finding movie times, recalling sports scores, and performing Finder file searches.




As far as Finder searches go, Siri allows for searching on any metadata associated with any given file. If you can search for it in the Finder's search window, you can do the same search with Siri. Drilling down into search results with refined or more specific terms after the results are delivered is also possible as well.

Privacy and security



As with Siri on iOS, Apple still isn't interested in collating data for sale. The Siri configuration menu has a button that invokes a summary of what Siri collects, what it sends to Apple, and how it is used.

Apple will aggregate the user's name, nicknames, and names of contacts. Other specifics like song names, names of photo albums, photo album names, and similar user data points are collated, but not linked to other data that Apple may have as a result of use of other Apple services.

The privacy and data protection notes also declare that while a Siri search request for a specific document is sent to Apple, the search is performed locally on the Mac.

In contrast to other vendors' search-assisted search tools, if Siri and Dictation are both turned off, Apple will delete user data collected in the past, as well as recent voice input data. Older voice input that has been disassociated with user account information may be retained to generally improve voice technologies by Apple developers.

The promise of Siri



Siri has come to the Mac at what we feel is an optimal time. The early growing pains on iOS are well behind it, and it handled all of our desktop workflow queries with aplomb.

Users can invoke Automator actions in Siri, opening up a wide array of customizable OS actions. The Siri SDK will give developers hooks into applications, adding another layer of functionality to the feature in days to come.

No, the technology is not the "Star Trek" voice-actuated main computer, but isn't intended to be -- at least not right now. With a bit of user knowledge on what the technology is capable of, and its limitations, Siri is a worthwhile addition to any Mac user's tool arsenal and will just continue to get better with time.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Not a feature I'll be using, but should be great for disabled users.
    baconstang
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Wow. Day and night difference to Windows 10 approach. Good job Apple 
    lolliverwatto_cobralostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 11,948member
    I'm not too sure I will be using this as my battles with Siri on IPad has turned me off to the whole idea.  

    [Quote] 
    No, the technology is not the "Star Trek" voice-actuated main computer, but isn't intended to be -- at least not right now. With a bit of user knowledge on what the technology is capable of, and its limitations, Siri is a worthwhile addition to any Mac user's tool arsenal and will just continue to get better with time.
    [/Quote] 

    in. The end this is where I expect Apple to go.   Beyond that the Automater link is going to be huge!   
  • Reply 4 of 22
    I'm really enjoying using Siri on the Mac. I don't use it as often as I do on iOS but it still comes in handy sometimes. 

    I would actually like to hqve the "hey Siri" functionality on the Mac though. Fortunately there is a workaround by using accessibility to activate dictation and then activisting the hot keys. It's a bit slow to respond though so it ideal. 
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 5 of 22
    SIRI totally rock! on the desktop.

    Check out the Wolfram Alpha backend...
     
    justadcomicsiqatedorepressthisjony0
  • Reply 6 of 22
    SIRI totally rock! on the desktop.

    Check out the Wolfram Alpha backend...
     
    Really glad there aren't any Genius Geeks here at AI.  :-) That is astonishing to me!
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse and get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    edited September 2016 frankieSpamSandwichbaconstang
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse and get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    You sound like a "cock-and-bull" in American slang so I won't believe a single word you said. Anyway, in my experience Siri can understand a lot more complicated tasks such as 'find an excel spreadsheet I created last week that is more than one megabyte' perfectly. Although I mainly use it just for launching apps, "launch excel' , 'check email', etc. My favorite? Very precise command such as "reduce brightness to 63%" or "increase volume by 5%", even "go to sleep at six o four pm." Google's voice can't even do that, it lacks hardware-software integration.
    edited September 2016 watto_cobralostkiwirepressthisjony0
  • Reply 9 of 22
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse and get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    Ohhh sure, absolutely brilliant.  I can sit around and send emails to myself all day.
    Google Voice and Google Maps are for the birds.  :)


    watto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 10 of 22
    Why do you say it is a good thing that Siri is not constantly listening on the Mac? Isn't that the whole point - voice activated control? Clicking on a menu bar to let it know that i want to issue a command by voice kinda defeats the purpose for me - my hands are already in motion so I may as well type something while I'm there.
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 11 of 22
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse and get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    I agree. I know it has some uses but it is silly how useless it is in most circumstances.  It needs to be majorly overhauled to be useful in every day life.
    baconstang
  • Reply 12 of 22
    I have semi-Siri on my Apple TV, Siri on my iPhone/iPad, and now Siri on my Macs in my [mostly] all-Apple household. However, my go-to voice device has become my Amazon Echo.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    I wonder if the new Macs will have a dedicated Siri key.
    repressthis
  • Reply 14 of 22
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse hand get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    Sorry, I didn't understand you. 
    kiltedgreenMacProJanNL
  • Reply 15 of 22
    I find Siri utterly frustrating in it's current form.

    I'll start using it when I can follow up on a question I just asked. As of now it fails to recognise the connection between any two lines of dictation in almost all cases.

    An exception I found is: "what's the weather like in NY?" (result) "What about next week?" - and Siri actually display the weather for the coming week.
    ireland
  • Reply 16 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,191member
    Siri is useless, it doesn't understand simple tasks. I just tested it trying to send an email to myself and it failed to recognise or understand what I was saying in order to complete the request, Google's voice recognition system is miles ahead. Apple need to get of their lazy arse and get on with it as this is becoming a major component of tech.
    Perhaps you have a strong regional accent? I know as an ex Brit, I can hardly understand many these days after living abroad.  Siri is only human after all .. oh wait ...  
  • Reply 17 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,191member
    Hey Siri on Mac would be very useful.  Star Trekian in fact!  :)
  • Reply 18 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,191member
    Jellygoop said:
    Why do you say it is a good thing that Siri is not constantly listening on the Mac? Isn't that the whole point - voice activated control? Clicking on a menu bar to let it know that i want to issue a command by voice kinda defeats the purpose for me - my hands are already in motion so I may as well type something while I'm there.
    I agree, I want Hey Siri on my Macs!  :)
  • Reply 19 of 22
    "Siri isn't constantly listening to the user like it can on iOS, nor is there a setting to allow it to do so in Sierra -- and this is a good BAD thing..."
  • Reply 20 of 22
    I should clarify my aforesaid opinion... I use Siri a lot on iOS 10 and have been doing likewise on MacOS Sierra while beta testing. I'm so used to asking Siri to do something for me, I find it more than distracting to have to manually activate Siri via the keyboard when I switch to the desktop computer.
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