A forthcoming iOS update this year will extend an improvement to Siri that tightens its integration with third-party communication apps, according to company sources, per Bloomberg. The update will allow Siri to default to the communication app that an iOS user engages with most frequently to communicate with a given contact.
For example, if an iPhone user asks Siri to message a family member, Siri will automatically launch the chat app that is used most often to interact with that specific contact. This is a big improvement over existing Siri functionality, in which Siri automatically defaults to Apple's native communication apps unless a user specifies the third-party chat app they'd like to use.
Apple has continually come under fire for anticompetitive behavior, and the Siri update marks the latest concession Apple has made to mitigate concerns. In May 2019, the US Supreme Court allowed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple to proceed, which claimed the company used monopoly power to raise the price of apps.
A month later, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) opened a general inquiry into the anticompetitive practices of big tech companies. Following these accusations, senior Apple executives claimed in September to have modified the App Store search algorithm to be less favorable to in-house offerings, according to The New York Times.
And in the same month, Apple gave third-party developers more direct access to Siri, allowing users to interact with third-party apps directly through Siri, instead of only being able to use the voice assistant to launch third-party apps via Siri Shortcuts. With the forthcoming update, Apple is making another concession to be less favorable to in-house products, and it will likely continue to take additional steps to silence accusations of anticompetitive behavior.
While the move will certainly improve Siri's functionality and the user experience, Apple services' less exclusive access to Siri could hinder the company's efforts to sustain revenue growth in Services. Apple has been making a concerted effort to grow Services revenue as the iPhone business declined — and it's working.
In fiscal Q3 2019 (ended June 29, 2019), the iPhone held a 48% share of total revenue, down from 55% in the prior year, but Apple's Services segment garnered a record profit of $11.5 billion, up 13% annually. But with the new functionality, which we expect will be extended to third-party apps beyond communication, iOS users will have a greater likelihood of using Apple alternatives when summoning Siri.