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The shocking truth about Proactive intelligence in iOS 9

Jonny Evans | Aug. 21, 2015
Isn't it shocking that Proactive can give you a digital assistant that isn't interested in collecting and selling data about what you do?

Apple Now

Working alongside Siri, Apple’s iOS 9 flagship feature, Proactive tries to work out what you want to do next. It then tries to support and help you to do what you want to do.

Proactive will do things like:

  • If you call a contact at a regular time on a regular basis, Proactive will start placing the contact’s icon in your Search screen at around the time it thinks you might make that call.
  • If you visit the gym regularly and like to play music there, you’ll see a Now Playing dialog appear in the lock screen (or when you connect your headphones) when you get to the gym.
  • If a call comes in from an unknown number that is contained within an email you have received, iOS 9 lets you know who might be calling.
  • If a call comes from an unknown landline number that isn’t included in any email, Proactive will tell you where that number originates.
  • If you receive an email containing reservation information (flight, restaurant, event) iOS 9 will create a suggested Calendar event for you.
  • If you begin to write an email to multiple recipients iOS 9 will suggest other people you usually include in similar groups.
  • Proactive will learn to display relevant real-time traffic updates and an estimate of how long it will take you to reach your destination.
  • Use your iPhone in your car? When you connect up to your vehicle Siri will ask if you want to continue listening to the thing you were listening to last time you drove.

How to use it

Accessed when you swipe to the left on the iOS home screen, or by tapping the shortcut logo at the bottom left corner of your Apple device, (where Handoff also sits), the Proactive screen contains:

  • A series of suggested contacts (based on those you most regularly speak with);
  • A list of apps based on those you most frequently use;
  • Tools to find nearby services such as restaurants or gas stations;
  • News items based on those trending in your area.

As the software learns your habits it will offer you shortcuts to do new things, and  third party apps will also offer Proactive tools as developers  build support for the feature into their software.

In future Proactive will also share other information, upcoming flights, local weather, traffic warnings, and other relevant items of information – all it needs to do is (1) have features enabled and (2) learn about you.


Proactive bases its information on what you do. This means that when you first install it the services it provides will be limited, contact recommendations will be skewed, app recommendations faulty – the more you use it the better it should become.


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