San Francisco: Apple Inc opened up its popular Siri digital assistant to outside developers on Monday, a move which means iPhone users soon could be able to hail rides with Uber, publish photos on Shutterfly or make a call on Skype with voice commands.
The move is the latest by the world's best-known technology company as it looks to spruce up the iPhone experience as sales of its best-selling product level off.
The announcement was greeted enthusiastically by thousands of developers at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Apple also gave a demonstration of Siri on the Mac computer, which for the first time will be able to search for photos, documents, music and other files via voice commands. Siri will also work similarly with Apple TV.
The presentation was kicked off by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook asking for a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
That was followed up by a demonstration of a new operating system for the Apple Watch that opens apps much faster than the previous version, and lets users write messages with their finger on the watch face, including in Chinese.
Apple's Siri move was largely foreseen by analysts.
"What you are seeing is just a lack of enthusiasm around apps," said analyst Brian Blau of tech research company Gartner, before the event. "If a developer can get access to their customer wherever they are, whatever device they are on, that would be the best situation."
Siri is the most visible aspect of Apple's artificial intelligence program, or AI. Rivals such as Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc's Google are investing heavily in their own digital assistants, analysts say. The Worldwide Developers Conference gives Apple a chance to show off its technical prowess. "Apple just can't stand still in light of this competition," said analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies.
Apple acknowledged a number of developers' grievances this month by allowing ads in App Store search results, which gives them a way to stand out in a sea of apps. And it will give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps.