As expected, Apple has announced that its Siri digital assistant is coming to the Mac. The change means for the first time, people will have easy access to search from the macOS operating system — and search that isn’t Google.
Today, during its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple demonstrated how Siri will come to the next version of macOS — formerly OS X — the operating system that runs on Mac computers.
People running macOS “Sierra,” which comes out later this year, will be able to speak their queries to Siri and get information that goes beyond what the current built-in Spotlight search can do.
For instant, here’s a search Apple demonstrated today, speaking “search the web for pictures of falconry” to Siri, as shown below in a screen shot from the excellent live blog The Verge did of the WWDC keynote:
Notice how pictures from “web image search” results are shown. You can’t see in the screen shot, but these images come from Bing — something you can tell if you do the same search on an iPhone.
Now, compare that to what happens doing the same exact search on the Mac now:
No results at all. That’s because Spotlight search doesn’t search beyond the Mac. Occasionally, “Spotlight Suggestions” will appear that may route you to other sources like Wikipedia. But if they don’t for a particular search, there’s no way to continue on to the web or other sources off your computer.
It’s unclear if Spotlight search — which looks to remain an option alongside Siri — will allow you to also search beyond your Mac. On iOS, it does, and it would make sense for that to finally follow on the Mac.
The change means more potential exposure for Bing, Yelp and other partners that Siri taps into. It also further locks Google out of the Apple search ecosystem, as it isn’t a default Siri partner (though telling Siri explicitly to search Google on iOS does work and likely will for the Mac).
Google still remains the default for Safari. Last year, many expected that Apple might not renew with Google, as its deal was expected to be up. While no announcement ever came, clearly the deal is continuing.
Google might also have a new in. Apple has announced that Siri will open to developer integration, and Google might find ways to tap into that.