Among the announcements from Apple at WWDC 2018 was that Siri, its virtual assistant, would be receiving an upgrade to allow greater interactivity with apps. With SiriKit, iOS and watchOS apps can work with Siri, providing developers new possibilities to increase user retention, discovery and usage. What is SiriKit? SiriKit is a new extension for Siri available in iOS 12 that allows the virtual assistant to interact with apps on the iPhone and Apple Watch. Apps that want to work with Siri can build an extension that allows their app to communicate with it even while inactive. This allows them to use Siri’s voice and natural language recognition to access preset functions on the app. Included in SiriKit are new shortcuts to help users access tasks in apps directly from the lock screen or searches. It uses signals such as voice commands, location and time of day to suggest relevant shortcuts as notifications. Users can also utilize a Shortcuts app to create personalized shortcuts to their apps. In short, SiriKit provides apps more ease of accessibility via the virtual assistant, which opens up new possibilities for everyday app usage. How Can Developers Use it? SiriKit provides new ways of interacting with apps without even needing to open the phone. Developers can now allow users to open and use their apps via voice recognition and use pre-set commands for everyday activities. For example, a user might make a shortcut to get them to work in the morning. By saying “Siri, I’m off to work,” Siri could then immediately open up the user’s navigation app of choice and load directions to their place of work, as well as use it to place a coffee order through the Starbucks app to pick up along the way. A coupon app, meanwhile, might have a shortcut where it would use location services to tell the user when they are near a store it offers coupons for, and present the user with a notification for it. The user would then just have to tap the notification, and Siri would instantly open the app and pull up relevant coupons. By providing these services, app developers can increase their apps’ ease of use as well as frequency of use, benefiting both them and their users. What Are the Benefits? The first benefit developers should see from SiriKit is increased usage of their apps. By creating shortcuts activated by voice command or by context-based notification, they’ll allow users to access their apps quickly and incentivize them to use their functions on a daily basis. For example, an app that lets people order food will not see when their user is in a hurry and doesn’t want to open the app, or can’t because they’re driving. By providing a voice-activated shortcut, the app gives customers the option to place their favorite orders without even needing to open their mobile device. Providing an increased ease of use can lead to increased usage. Similarly, location or activity-based notifications will remind and encourage users to open their apps. An exercise-logging app, for instance, may notice when a user is jogging at a park, and remind them to open the app to start recording their progress. Context-based notifications ensure that they will only notify users at relevant times, providing the notification when it’s needed rather than annoying the user throughout the day at inopportune times. At the same time, this will also encourage user retention. If an app makes itself a part of the user’s daily routine, they’ll continue to support the app and recommend it to their friends. Brand loyalty is key to user retention, and an app builds strong loyalty when it’s there for users when they need them. What Next? App developers should start thinking of how SiriKit can benefit their apps. Consider the following questions:
- Where and when do people use it?
- What shortcuts will users want to use?
- How can we make our app indispensable?
The answers will help developers determine what functions they’ll want to make accessible through SiriKit. In doing so, they’ll provide better and more convenient services for their users and ensure customer loyalty.