Apple may debut new ‘Proactive’ assistant with iOS 9

Apple is planning to expand Siri and Spotlight functionality in iOS 9 to provide a more effective personal assistant, 9to5Mac reports. Dubbed Proactive, the service is expected to be similar in concept to Google’s Google Now service that is available on Android devices and in Google’s iOS app, leveraging services such as Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to provide relevant information to the user based on their data and device usage patterns. Integration with Apple Maps is also expected to allow the service to display points of interest, which will apparently be presented in a new augmented reality interface. The new service will reportedly be an evolution of the Spotlight search feature in iOS, and appears to be designed to be accessible from a panel to the left of the home screen — similar to where Spotlight was located prior to the iOS 7 design refresh two years ago.
Sources note that Proactive is the result of a long-term plan involving Apple’s acquisition of a number of small app developers, including a personal assistant app known as Cue. iOS 8’s ability to display Wikipedia Search results within Spotlight was apparently a first step in this process, as likely is Apple’s Frequent Locations and Traffic features which attempt to provide relevant time-to-destination information on the user’s today screen based on typical travel patterns, as well as Apple’s background refresh services for third-party apps, which attempt to provide the ability to start up apps in the background and refresh them based on the user’s typical usage patterns for those apps.

Apple now reportedly plans to unify some of these existing capabilities with a whole new set of features designed to take Proactive “to the next level” — an initiative that may be unveiled as early as the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference next month. Examples of new capabilities would include using calendar events to present information to the user when they need it — such as presenting flight time notifications and bringing up a boarding pass from Passbook before a flight — providing a dynamic map view for upcoming appointments, including ETA, directions, and traffic information, and noting users’ app usage patterns to present quick and easy access to apps when typically needed.

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