Apple predicted to expand Siri integration to additional third-party apps

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Engineers and industry insiders expect Apple to announce an expansion of Siri services at its Worldwide Developer Conference next week that will allow the virtual assistant to interact with more third-party apps, according to a report on Friday.

Apple initially opened Siri up to developers with specialized App Extensions in iOS 10. Announced at WWDC 2016, SiriKit APIs cover a specific set of functions currently limited to messaging, payments, ride booking, photo search, fitness and automotive infotainment apps.

At this year's developers conference, insiders predict Apple will expand Siri access beyond the six app categories, Reuters reports. Like past initiatives, Apple is thought to take a "go slow" approach with the rumored Siri enhancements, perhaps adding a few more categories to the list.

Currently, users can ask Siri to hail an Uber or control fitness tracking software, but are unable to make purchases ala Amazon's Alexa assistant. Apple Pay integration was, in fact, rumored for integration as far back as last year, though Apple has yet to implement its payments product as a SiriKit option.

The exact nature of Siri's supposed augmentations is unclear, and the report is based on conjecture. Apple is, however, likely planning an answer to competing virtual assistants like Alexa, which has grown in popularity thanks to integration with home speakers like Echo.

Apple is also rumored to be working on a dedicated Siri speaker that could debut alongside the expected Siri enhancements. Recent reports have indicated that Apple is only now starting production of the device, suggesting it will hit store shelves sometime later this year.

Siri is just one of many software products ripe for upgrade at WWDC 2017. If the virtual assistant is slated for enhancement in iOS 11 as reported, Apple will likely unveil changes in a keynote scheduled for Monday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Pacific. As usual, AppleInsider will be offering live coverage and analysis from the event