One of the smaller but potentially significant new capabilities in iOS 15 is the ability for your iPhone to handle at least some of the things you ask Siri for directly on your device, improving both speed and privacy.
Before iOS 15, every time you uttered the words “Hey Siri,” your iPhone would grab everything else you said after that and send it off to Apple’s big cloud of servers. These servers would in turn figure out what you had just said, and then tell your iPhone what to do about it.
This didn’t require a lot of data, to be fair, and with modern Wi-Fi and cellular connections, it all happened pretty quickly. Even the 3G-only iPhone 4S that originally gave birth to Siri could handle requests without too much delay. Not instantly, of course, but fast enough.
Still, while many of us don’t really think about this, it seems baffling to consider that even asking Siri to start a timer required the digitized version of your voice to make the long trip over the internet to one of Apple’s data centres and then back to your iPhone.
While that certainly makes sense if you’re asking Siri to play something from Apple Music, it should be far less necessary if you’re just asking to open the Settings app or turn off Bluetooth.
After all, if the A-series chips in Apple’s modern iPhone models can perform a trillion operations every time you take a photo, surely they can figure out what you’re saying to Siri, right?
Well, it turns out the answer is yes, and Apple simply had to build it. With iOS 15, your requests to Siri will be handled directly on your iPhone whenever possible. The catch is you’ll still need an iPhone model with Apple’s powerful Neural Engine built into the CPU, and that means an A12-equipped iPhone XS/XR or later.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that just because Siri can now understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t mean that it won’t still have to rely on Apple’s servers for more complex requests. In fact, the list of things you can do offline with Siri is actually pretty short, but read on to discover all the new things you can ask Siri without an internet connection.