Apple is shortening the “Hey Siri” trigger phrase to just “Siri”

The shorter trigger phrase will speed up back-to-back requests as well as let you launch and use Siri faster on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and HomePod.

iPhone 12 with the Hey Siri orb displayed at the bottom of the Lock Screen
The shorter Siri trigger may launch in 2023 or 2024 | Image: Omid Armin/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Apple is working on a simpler way to invoke Siri hands-free by shortening the “Hey Siri” trigger phrase to a single hot word: “Siri.”
  • Why care? You’ll spend less time asking Siri questions.
  • What to do? Learn about all the ways you can invoke Siri on your Apple devices

“Siri, what happened to ‘Hey Siri?’”

The company has been training the underlying artificial intelligence algorithm to learn the shorter wake-up phrase, testing it with employees and collecting the necessary training data. The feature should launch in 2023 or 2024, however.

Mark Gurman, writing in his Power On newsletter on Bloomberg:

The complexity involves Siri being able to understand the singular phrase “Siri” in multiple different accents and dialects. Having two words—“Hey Siri”—increases the likelihood of the system properly picking up the signal.

The author has learned that Apple has been working on other Siri improvements such as deeper integration into third-party apps and services, as well as “improving its ability to understand users and take the correct course of action.”

“Hey Siri” but without the “Hey” part

The shorter trigger will make conversing with Siri feel more like talking to a real person. Instead of “Hey Siri” followed by a command,  you’ll only need to say “Siri.” Currently, every hands-free Siri query must begin with “Hey Siri.” This simple change could cumulatively save you time and speed up back-to-back requests.

Siri isn’t the only virtual assistant to implement a shorter trigger phrase, far from it.

Activating Amazon’s Alexa requires you to say “Alexa,” followed by a request. Alexa never used a longer “Hey Alexa” trigger phrase. Microsoft’s Cortana would spring into action as soon as it heard a “Hey Cortana” phrase though Microsoft later shortened the trigger to just “Cortana” on smart speakers.

Google Assistant currently requires the prompt “OK Google” or “Hey Google” (in the future, follow-up requests will be possible without repeating the wake word).

Activating Siri on a specific device

Currently, it’s not possible to tell Siri which device it should respond to your query on. Now, Gurman hasn’t heard anything in terms of such a feature potentially being worked on though he went on to explain this could be helpful.

For me, an even better change would be Apple allowing users—by voice—to specify which device they want to trigger. Let me take out the world’s smallest violin here for owners of multiple Apple devices, but the company should really allow users to specify if they want to trigger their iPhone, iPad or HomePod for Siri.

On the Apple Watch Series 3 or later, you don’t need to say “Hey Siri” to get Siri’s attention. Instead, you just raise your wrist. The very act of raising the wrist signals the watch to wake up and prompts the assistant to start listening.

A short history of Siri

Siri debuted on the iPhone 4s back in 2011. The voice-activated feature was born out of an acquisition of a startup behind the Siri virtual assistant app on the App Store.

The startup itself is a spin-off of a project developed by the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center. Siri the assistant is an offshoot of the DARPA-funded Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes (CALO) project to create an AI helper smart enough to learn by observing a user’s behavior. Read: How to type to Siri