Siri for Mac: How it works in Apple's macOS Sierra and what it's capable of

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in macOS
macOS Sierra, revealed during Apple's WWDC keynote on Monday, will be the first Mac operating system to include Siri. Although many people are familiar with how the virtual assistant works in iOS, there will be quite a few differences on desktops and laptops.




On current Mac models, at least, the main way you'll trigger it is by clicking on a new Dock icon, although during the keynote, a keyboard shortcut also seemed to be available. In any case, there will be a Menu Bar icon in the upper right.

Macs will have access to just about every Siri function present on iOS devices, with the obvious exception of anything hardware-specific. Among options will be things like reminders, photo browsing, Apple Music, FaceTime calls, restaurant reservations, and finding movie times and sports scores.

Where the Mac will come into its own, though, is integration with Finder. Although opening the app itself may be easier for locating specific files, Siri will allow searches according to broad criteria like when files were last opened or who sent them. The system will moreover support contextual follow-up commands, which can narrow down results.




People will also be able to export Siri content for the first time. When searching the Web for an image or a Maps location for instance, that content can be dragged and dropped directly into another application. Siri results can additionally be pinned to the Today tab in the Notification Center, where they'll be updated automatically if there are any changes.




Apple has hinted at other Mac-specific commands as well, such as the ability to check how much free storage space is left.

Something that remains to be seen is how the Siri SDK might open up third-party app functionality. Apple concentrated on how it would improve iOS apps during its keynote, but the technology could become even more useful given the greater scope and power of desktop software.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Can it be always on? This would make a big difference I think and make it more of an echo competitor. I have an Echo Dot sat next to my Mac which I use for music. The reason I use it is because I don't have to be at the desk to activate it. Siri on my iMac could only replace this if were always on.
  • Reply 2 of 25
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    this sounds really cool. working with the file system especially. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 25
    pdbreskepdbreske Posts: 39member
    Can it be always on? This would make a big difference I think and make it more of an echo competitor. I have an Echo Dot sat next to my Mac which I use for music. The reason I use it is because I don't have to be at the desk to activate it. Siri on my iMac could only replace this if were always on.
    I would think they wouldn't allow "Hey Siri" functionality on a computer that may have an iPhone sitting right next to it. Your phone doesn't know your query is directed at the Mac. On the other hand, with the new unlocking feature, they've shown the computer can recognize a nearby phone, so maybe they could turn off an "always listening" mode of Siri on the Mac if it knows your phone is close enough to hear your voice.
    coolfactor
  • Reply 4 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,793member
    Can it be always on? This would make a big difference I think and make it more of an echo competitor. I have an Echo Dot sat next to my Mac which I use for music. The reason I use it is because I don't have to be at the desk to activate it. Siri on my iMac could only replace this if were always on.

    I'm sure there will be an option for it. "Dictation Commands" has always had on "always on" option by saying a specified phrase (Default is, "Computer" - I have it set to, "can you"), so there's no reason Siri won't as well.
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 5 of 25
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member
    I don't see the point of it being always on, or even needing voice activation aka Hey Siri.

    This is a Mac. You use a Mac with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Your hands are already on either if you are using the product. For me, the keyboard shortcut of Function Space just became part of my new routine. For others, one of the two icons on the screen will suffice.

    Anything else is honestly slower, and unneeded. 
    coolfactor
  • Reply 6 of 25
    oneotaoneota Posts: 5member
    I just hope you can type your Siri request and have the results written vs. spoken - I really don't want to have a verbal conversation with my computer in my quiet office.
    why-reflows
  • Reply 7 of 25
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    I wonder if there'll be a text entry box or "hey siri" functionality
  • Reply 8 of 25
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member
    why- said:
    I wonder if there'll be a text entry box or "hey siri" functionality
    Why? What is the point of Hey Siri on a Mac?
  • Reply 9 of 25
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member

    oneota said:
    I just hope you can type your Siri request and have the results written vs. spoken - I really don't want to have a verbal conversation with my computer in my quiet office.
    Well, then you don't want Siri.
  • Reply 10 of 25
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,549member
    TurboPGT said:

    Anything else is honestly slower, and unneeded. 
    "Unneeded" may be application dependent. @fasterquieter mentioned a good example of how it would be handy for her/him in Reply #1.
  • Reply 11 of 25
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 190member
    Like its iOS counterpart, Siri will eventually be relegated to only setting alarms and reminders. 
  • Reply 12 of 25
    oneota said:
    I just hope you can type your Siri request and have the results written vs. spoken - I really don't want to have a verbal conversation with my computer in my quiet office.
    Mute button
    lolliver
  • Reply 13 of 25
    ronmgronmg Posts: 163member
    TurboPGT said:
    why- said:
    I wonder if there'll be a text entry box or "hey siri" functionality
    Why? What is the point of Hey Siri on a Mac?
    I can think of a few things that would make it useful. I have an iMac with 5 users on it. As I walk up to the iMac I can say, "Hey Siri, log into Ron's account." so it is opening when I get there. "Hey Siri, open that document that I was working on yesterday." "Hey Siri, Find My iPhone and Play Sound." in case you can't locate it. "Hey Siri, please open Maps and print out directions from here to John Doe's house." while you are standing by the computer and you want to hand a printout to someone. And, of course, on your treadmill and want your iMac to play music over the better speaker system than using ear buds and an iPhone. "Hey Siri, play me some Van Halen and turn up the volume!!"
  • Reply 14 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,793member
    TurboPGT said:
    why- said:
    I wonder if there'll be a text entry box or "hey siri" functionality
    Why? What is the point of Hey Siri on a Mac?

    It's apparent that you don't see the value in having such a feature, and as such YOU never have to use it. But there are people with more active imaginations that see the potential in it. For instance, my iMac is in my bedroom and it doubles as my "entertainment center". It would be very nice if I could tell it a multitude of commands to control media playback from my bed at night.

    Furthermore, having a second form of input would allow users to become truly "multi-tasking". While you're typing away on something, you could simply ask Siri to look something up for you without needing to break away from what you're typing. It's like having an assistant to do mundane tasks without you needing to drop focus on what you're doing.
    edited June 2016 lolliver
  • Reply 15 of 25
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,371member
    TurboPGT said:
    I don't see the point of it being always on, or even needing voice activation aka Hey Siri.

    This is a Mac. You use a Mac with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Your hands are already on either if you are using the product. For me, the keyboard shortcut of Function Space just became part of my new routine. For others, one of the two icons on the screen will suffice.

    Anything else is honestly slower, and unneeded. 

    And what about multiple people sitting around a desk, and someone says "Hey Siri" and all computers suddenly execute the command. Although I suppose that same problem affects phones, too. 
  • Reply 16 of 25
    reflowsreflows Posts: 8member
    A text interface with Siri would be far more useful when working around other people, or in cases when Siri has a hard time with a specific word or proper noun.
    But more to the point, Siri is *crying out* to be integrated with Spotlight.  Why on earth would these remain on parallel tracks?  
  • Reply 17 of 25
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    TurboPGT said:
    I don't see the point of it being always on, or even needing voice activation aka Hey Siri.

    This is a Mac. You use a Mac with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Your hands are already on either if you are using the product. For me, the keyboard shortcut of Function Space just became part of my new routine. For others, one of the two icons on the screen will suffice.

    Anything else is honestly slower, and unneeded. 

    And what about multiple people sitting around a desk, and someone says "Hey Siri" and all computers suddenly execute the command. Although I suppose that same problem affects phones, too. 

    I dunno about siri but with Cortana you can train her to learn your voice so she only responds to your "hey Cortana". I've tried it and it works pretty well
  • Reply 18 of 25
    wigbywigby Posts: 686member
    pdbreske said:
    Can it be always on? This would make a big difference I think and make it more of an echo competitor. I have an Echo Dot sat next to my Mac which I use for music. The reason I use it is because I don't have to be at the desk to activate it. Siri on my iMac could only replace this if were always on.
    I would think they wouldn't allow "Hey Siri" functionality on a computer that may have an iPhone sitting right next to it. Your phone doesn't know your query is directed at the Mac. On the other hand, with the new unlocking feature, they've shown the computer can recognize a nearby phone, so maybe they could turn off an "always listening" mode of Siri on the Mac if it knows your phone is close enough to hear your voice.
    The phone already doesn't know which device the query is being directed at. I've used "hey Siri" into my Apple Watch only to also have it trigger my iPhone in my pocket or in the car at the same time while I'm driving. It's not a technical issue as much as it's a philosophical one. Apple doesn't want users to think of a creepy always listening computer.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    wigbywigby Posts: 686member

    why- said:

    And what about multiple people sitting around a desk, and someone says "Hey Siri" and all computers suddenly execute the command. Although I suppose that same problem affects phones, too. 

    I dunno about siri but with Cortana you can train her to learn your voice so she only responds to your "hey Cortana". I've tried it and it works pretty well
    Siri is trainable. I can fool her and access my wife's iPhone but my wife cannot fool Siri on my iPhone. Must be all that falsetto karaoke I do.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    wigbywigby Posts: 686member

    reflows said:
    A text interface with Siri would be far more useful when working around other people, or in cases when Siri has a hard time with a specific word or proper noun.
    But more to the point, Siri is *crying out* to be integrated with Spotlight.  Why on earth would these remain on parallel tracks?  

    Siri had access to all spotlight files and functions at the WWDC demo so what's the difference?
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