Bloomberg reports that Apple will open up Siri to third-party messaging apps with a software update later this year. Third-party phone apps will be added later. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman:
When the software refresh kicks in, Siri will default to the apps that people use frequently to communicate with their contacts. For example, if an iPhone user always messages another person via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp, rather than iMessage. It will decide which service to use based on interactions with specific contacts. Developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps. This will be expanded later to phone apps for calls as well.
As Gurman notes, the company’s change in approach comes as Apple is facing scrutiny over the competitive implications of its dual role as app maker and App Store gatekeeper in the US and elsewhere.
It’s interesting that the update is a Siri-only change. Users will still not be able to replace Messages with WhatsApp or Phone with Skype as their default messaging and phone apps for instance, but it strikes me as a step in the right direction and a change that I hope leads to broader customization options on iOS and iPadOS.