Apple Expected To Showcase New Powers For Siri At Developer Event

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By Julia Love and Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc is opening its popular Siri digital assistant to outside developers, which means iPhone users could soon be able to hail rides with Uber, publish photos on Shutterfly or make a call on Skype with voice commands.

The move, announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday, is Apple’s latest attempt to spruce up the iPhone experience as sales of the best-selling product flag.

The world’s best-known technology company also gave a demonstration of Siri on the Mac computer, which for the first time will be able to search for photos, documents, music and other files via voice commands. Siri will also work similarly with Apple TV.

Among other revamps, it said its Apple Pay mobile payment system would be able to work for some internet purchases on its Safari browser, including on Mac computers, representing a challenge to PayPal Holdings Inc. Apple is also adding Siri’s artificial intelligence to its messaging app, which will get quick access to emojis and new ways to expand and change how texts are displayed.

The presentation was kicked off by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook asking for a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

That was followed up by a demonstration of a new operating system for the Apple Watch that opens apps much faster than the previous version, and lets users write messages with their finger on the watch face, including in Chinese.

Apple’s Siri move was largely foreseen by analysts, and the event itself did not grip investors as some of Apple’s product announcements have in the past. Its shares were down 1.1 percent at $97.65 in afternoon trading, near where they were at the start of the presentation.

“Whatever news comes out of it (the conference) might matter to some short-term traders but won’t affect our view on the stock,” said Mark Mulholland, portfolio manager of the Matthew 25 fund, during the presentation. “We’re going to hold this stock for at least another three years, because it has such a dominant position in the phone market.”

Siri is the most visible aspect of Apple’s artificial intelligence program, commonly known as AI. Rivals such as Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc’s Google are investing heavily in their own digital assistants, analysts say.

“Apple just can’t stand still in light of this competition,” said analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies.

Apple acknowledged a number of developers’ grievances this month by allowing ads in App Store search results, which gives them a way to stand out in a sea of apps. And it will give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps.

(Reporting by Julia Love and Noel Randewich in San Francisco, additional reporting by David Randall; editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Rigby)

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