By Roland Moore-Colyer
PayPal has joined forces with Apple to enable payments to be made through voice commands to the Siri virtual assistant.
iPhone and iPad users with Siri on their devices can simply request money to be sent to another user through a voice command such as “Hey Siri, send Bill £50 using PayPal,” which will trigger the payment to be made through the PayPal app on iOS.
The new feature is rolling out to users in the United Kingdom today, and 29 other countries, including the United States, China, United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil and Belgium, will also have access to the service.
PayPal’s integration of Siri is indicative of Apple’s aim to make its virtual assistant more useful and not limited to only working with native iOS apps.
The Cupertino, Calif., company, notorious for keeping its products and services under wraps and not being nearly as open as Google’s Android, announced in September it would be enabling third-party developers to tap into Siri to bring the virtual assistant into more apps.
Given the likes of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant can be used to interact with third-party services, opening Siri to developers seems to have been a prudent move by Apple to not allow Siri to be outclassed by other virtual assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana.
The smartphone virtual assistant arena appears to be getting crowded pretty quickly; what started out with Siri debuting on the iPhone 4S in 2011, now has Google Now and the search company’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered assistant, Cortana, Alexa, and an as yet un-named and un-released assistant from Samsung.
Facebook is also getting in on the act with its M for Messenger service, a pseudo AI assistant that is backed up by human support to ensure that the service gets requests right and can be trained to be smarter as it goes along.
While the rise of the machines may be some way off, undoubtedly more virtual assistants will make their way into popular devices and software with the aim to takeover the dull everyday tasks that bog down modern human life.