Can Siri finally understand more than the predefined Intents?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

GUI is so 90’s

Lately, I find myself increasingly annoyed to have to use my phone to perform boring and recurring tasks like look up the quote of a special cryptocurrency. Especially in some circumstances like eg when I’m home. At home, I want to feel foremost comfortable. This is hard to achieve when I have to get up to search for my phone, once again. Wouldn’t it be nice to just ask in the room and get the answers?

Wait but there is Siri, right? So what can it do for me and what can developers achieve with it today?

Hey Siri, are we there yet?

Turns out that SiriKit offers a set of predefined intents ready to be used. That’s a start. But those cannot handle my specific requests and I guess a lot of others as well. To be fully usable something like custom parametrized intents would be nice. I would like that Siri understands something like:

“Hey Siri, what’s the price of <your cryptocurrency> in <your currency>?”

To be fair. When asking this for Bitcoin and USD you would get an answer. Depending on how the question is formulated Siri would start the Stocks app in preview or get something from the Web. But when trying to get an answer for other rather “unknown” cryptocurrencies, Siri struggles. I totally get that this question may seem fairly simple for a human to process but it is certainly not that simple for Siri to filter out the domain in question and start the “right” app for the job.

Hence I would also be satisfied with something in the form of a QA for the beginning:

> “Hey Siri, cryptocurrency price”

< “For what cryptocurrency?”

> “Bitcoin”

< “In what currency?”

> “USD”

In that way, developers could assign to specific keywords (in this case “cryptocurrency price”) input dialogues to get params to process those and render a response. Something similar to URL schemas

After looking a bit deeper I stumbled upon an interesting blog post which clarified it for me:

There are also some hands on blogposts how to set up “Custom Intents”:

I’ll just wait here then

Since iOS 12 it is possible to create a custom Intent in the form of an Intents.intentdefinition file. Here app developers can specify parameters which the app can process. To stick with the cryptocurrency example: When the user is searching for a price of a cryptocurrency inside an app, the app can create an Intent with the parameters already filled out. Eg. Show the price of Bitcoin in USD. Furthermore, the app can now “donate” this specific Intent (already parametrized) to the system. This “donation” would appear on the lock screen and as a shortcut ready to be used.

This means one could assign a custom Siri voice command to trigger this Intent. It also means that if you have 5 favourite cryptocurrencies and 3 favourite currencies you would have to go through this step 15 times inside the app. Afterwards, you would need to assign 15 voice commands to those donations.

Well, honestly this is not the way I would like it to be. But it’s a start and I hope that with iOS 13 we get something like parametrized Intents for the user to trigger.

Hackdayz #18: Git Repo Sync Tool

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Working as a consultant usually involves handling client and local repositories seamlessly and is often pretty simple as an individual.

When working in a distributed team environment where only a portion of the members have access to certain areas of the project, the situation becomes a bit tricky to handle. We identified this as a minor showstopper in our organization and during our internal hackathon Hackdayz18 we decided to make our lives easier.

Application overview and features

  • Ability to synchronize public and client repositories with a single button click
  • Persist user data and linked repositories
  • Visualized state of repositories
  • Link commits to different user
  • Modify commit message and squash all commits into one

Our Team

Nikola Gjeorgjiev (Frontend Engineer)
Antonie Zafirov (Software Engineer)
Fatih Korkmaz (Managing Partner)

Challenges and results

Initially what we had in mind was a tool that would read two repository URLs and with no further constraints squash all commits on one of the repositories, change the commit message and push the result on the second repository.

It turned out things weren’t that simple for the problem we were trying to solve.

Through trial and error, we managed to build a working demo of our tool in a short time frame that only need small tweaking in order to be used.

Workflow for the GitSync tool
Workflow for the GitSync tool

The final result was a small application that is able to persist user data and using given user credentials to read the state of repositories linked to the user. The final step is where all the magic happens and the content of the source repository is transferred into the destination repository.

There is still work to be done to get the application production ready and available to the team, but in the given timeframe we did our best, I am happy with our results.

Technology stack

  • Gitgraph.js – JavaScript library which visually presents Git branching, Git workflow or whatever Git tree you’d have in mind
  • GitLab API – Automating GitLab via a simple and powerful API
  • VueJS – front-end development framework
  • SpringBoot – back-end development framework

Conclusion

Even though we underestimated the problem we were facing, we pulled through and were able to deliver the base of the solution of the problem.

The hackathon was a valuable learning experience for the entire team and we’re looking forward to the next one!