Apple is trying to make Siri smarter in iOS 8. The redesigned version of Siri can be activated without touching the phone at all if the phone is plugged in — in other words, "Hey, Siri" is the new "Okay, Google," if you're doing something like driving. Siri was already plugged into pop culture, but now, it will also tell you what song you're listening to. Apple has announced a partnership with music recognition service Shazam that will let Siri do what its popular app has been doing for years. The feature was rumored before the event, and it's a useful and obvious addition to a digital assistant. A couple of other new options add iTunes purchasing capabilities and streaming voice recognition, letting you see what you're saying as you speak, and Siri takes commands in 22 more languages. It's even a part of Apple's new smart home framework. Saying something like "Siri, get ready for bed" could automatically dim the lights and lock the doors.
Siri got an early lead in the smartphone assistant space, but it's facing competition on other operating systems. Google Now doesn't have the same illusion of personality, but it uses Google's trove of information to create smart, contextual recommendations. Microsoft, meanwhile, is working on a system called Cortana, created with help from the actress behind the iconic Halo character.