Whether it’s for security, speed, or simply because your internet connection is poor, iOS 15 allows you to fully use Siri on the device. There are obvious limitations and others that are not so obvious.
Hands down, this is the easiest new feature to set up in iOS 15 because you don’t have to do anything. In fact, you can’t do anything. Once you have iOS 15, Siri works on your device without connecting to the internet and that’s it, for a few things.
First of all, Siri processing already existed on the device, iOS 14 included extended dictation on the device. If it’s not already on by default, you can go to Settings, general, Keyboardsand select Enable dictation.
However, while that’s part of Siri, it doesn’t seem like it because of how you start the job. Instead of saying, “Hey Siri, take a letter,” most of the time you press the microphone button on the keyboard and start talking.
For everything else in what you did, or could, say “Hey Siri,” the iPhone went through the same process each time. You would say what you want, he will send that recording over the Internet and Tim Cook will respond to you personally.
It’s amazing how even your sleepy “Hey Siri, what time is it?” early in the morning he is sent to Cupertino and returns fast enough that he has not gone back to sleep.
Sometimes though, it’s not fast at all, and sometimes the internet connection is poor. Or sometimes you just don’t want to use even a small amount of data, sometimes you are concerned about privacy.
For all these reasons, and probably also because it’s much more efficient to do it on your device, iOS 15 only sends your “Hey Siri” commands to Apple when necessary. However, you still have to do it very often.
What you can use Siri for on your device, offline
- Set and change timers
- Set and change alarms
- Toggle many settings from airplane mode to Bluetooth on and off
- Turn the volume up or down
- Open any installed application
- Skip to the next track in Music
That last one is unexpected and may not be as helpful. If your internet connection is so poor that you have no connection, Apple Music won’t take you to the next track.
So being able to ask Siri and be understood without being online is a bit moot. Of course, if the track is already downloaded to your device, you can safely skip it this way.
Except it only seems to work with music. Even when you have downloaded TV episodes or podcasts, Siri cannot skip to the previous or next episode.
Why can’t you use Siri without an internet connection
- Close or exit an application
- Anything else in an app
- Control downloaded media including music (i.e. request a track)
- Initiate calls, emails, messages
There are these oddities, like being able to skip tracks in Music, but not in Podcasts. However, if not, Siri cannot work only in the areas that you would expect.
For example, to play a specific track, even a downloaded one, Siri has to understand what title or artist you are requesting. As well as parsing your sentence, or whatever Apple’s servers do, presumably looking for a list of clues to match what you’re looking for.
Until we can have all the music on our devices, and until all the speech analysis can be done there as well, these are things Siri has to look for online.
This is a case where Apple has looked at what can be physically done on the device. But the reasons why someone would want that has really been being analyzed, and an unreliable internet connection is not the reason.
Not when, otherwise, Apple seems to believe that we all have a hyper-fast, always-on Internet. And not when the answer to a bad internet connection is to walk a meter closer to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Why Siri works on the device
This is partly due to privacy and speed. It’s not about getting things done without a connection, it’s about getting them done faster.
This is also why there are no settings for it. If Apple had an on / off switch for Siri working on the device, a lot of people would use it. And then a lot of people would complain that their iPhones couldn’t do much.
Or, at best, people would have to make decisions about how to turn it on or off, depending on what they wanted to do now.
Apple doesn’t like people having to think about settings, it wants users to keep using it. There will probably be more Siri features on the device, if not during the iOS 15 beta process, in the future, but it will always work the same invisibly.
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