Apple is working on a new feature within iOS 9 called “Proactive” that will transform how you use your iPhone to look up information, according to a new report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman.
In his report, Gurman describes Proactive as a new layer within iOS 9 that expands Siri’s capabilities and combines them with existing Apple services like Spotlight Search, Calendar, and Passbook to make it quick and easy to surface relevant information.
In many ways, Proactive sounds like Apple’s answer to Google Now, the search giant’s own personal assistant that can predict what Android users are looking for in addition to answering questions, making recommendations, and carrying out actions.
Apple’s Proactive feature would act in a similar way, both by allowing Siri to access more information and by learning from users’ habits to display relevant details in a convenient location. The report says that Apple began building what turned into Proactive after purchasing Cue, a personal assistant app, in 2013.
Here’s how Gurman describes what it’s like to use Proactive.
Below the search bar will sit a new user interface that automatically populates with content based around three key parts of iOS: Apps, Contacts, and Maps, effectively a considerably upgraded version of Siri’s existing “digital assistant” functionality. For example, if a user has a flight listed in her Calendar application and a boarding pass stored in Passbook, a bubble within the new Proactive screen will appear around flight time to provide quick access to the boarding pass. If a user has a calendar appointment coming up, a map view could appear with an estimated arrival time, directions, and a time to leave indicator based on traffic.
Proactive is also said to learn from your iPhone usage habits, so if you’re in the habit of calling your wife after work, Proactive could create a temporary bubble with the “call wife” prompt that shows up around the time you leave work for the day. In the same way, the report says Proactive will also be able to make recommendations about nearby restaurants around breakfast, lunch, and dinner, displaying their review ratings.
Gurman says that Proactive is “the fruit of a long-term initiative that involved the acquisition of small app developers” in addition to the “integration of core iOS apps” such Apple Maps, Calendar, Passbook, and Contacts. These are the core apps that will power Proactive, but Apple is also reportedly looking to eventually open up Siri with some limitations to app developers under the codename “Breadcrumbs,” though concerns over maintaining user privacy have caused Apple to tread with caution.
While Proactive could debut with iOS 9 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8th, Gurman points out that “none of them as described are a lock” for iOS 9, since Apple wants its new mobile software to be reliable and bug free. Because Proactive will represent a new way to look up information and carry out actions on your iPhone, Apple is reportedly wary of rushing to debut the new feature, but it could still show up sooner rather than later.
You can read Gurman’s full report over at 9to5Mac.