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(Via Apple). Siri screenshot
(Via Apple)

After nearly five years, Apple will finally give developers access to Siri, its iOS (and now macOS) virtual assistant, thus potentially expanding the number and type of functions the disembodied female voice can accomplish, the company said at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today.

“In iOS 10, Siri is going to be able to do so much more, because we’re opening Siri to developers,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, during a demo.

“Now you can ask Siri, ‘Send a WeChat to Nancy,’ and Nancy can summon it,” Federighi said. “Now we support messaging through Slack and WhatsApp. You can do ride sharing with Uber. You can do photo searches in apps like Pinterest. You can start, stop and pause in MapMyRun. You can do payments through [German online-payment site] Number26. You can do VOIP calling through Skype.”

Siri, which debuted in October 2011 as an innovative form of artificial intelligence, has failed to thrive outside Apple in the absence of an accessible API. In contrast, as of last month 1,000 third-party apps were taking advantage of Amazon’s voice-enabled virtual assistant, Alexa, Amazon said.

In other development news, Federighi added that iMessage apps will be opened up to developers, while Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced Swift Playground, an app to teach kids how to code on iPad.

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