Ex-Apple employee: Cook’s doing a good job, but Steve Jobs ‘would have lost his mind over Siri’

“Steve Jobs would have ‘lost his mind over Siri,’ according to an ex-Apple employee,” Karen Haslam reports for Macworld UK..

The ex-employee told Fortune that people at Apple are ’embarrassed by Siri.’ Siri is Apple’s voice-recognition ‘PA’ feature on iPhones that has come under fire recently in a series of lawsuits that claim Siri doesn’t work as advertised. Siri was tagged as beta when Apple launched the iPhone 4S, and yet the company still picked it as the lead feature in its advertisements for the new phone,” Haslam reports. “Fortune has published a report that looks into the ways in which Tim Cook is changing Apple. Siri is noted as an example of a product that doesn’t reflect the normal quality of Apple products (although, we’d note that there were certainly poor products released under Steve Jobs – MobileMe, for example). The report states: ‘The ultimate ‘tell’ of tectonic changes at Apple will be the quality of its products. Those looking for deficiencies have found them in Siri, a less-than-perfect product that Apple released with the rare beta label in late 2011, a signal that the service shouldn’t be viewed as fully baked.'”

Haslam reports, “However, much of the report is very positive about Cook’s impact on Apple. It notes that both Apple employees and Wall Street analysts like and respect Cook, concluding that “as Apple enters a complex new phase of its corporate history, perhaps it doesn’t need a god as CEO but a mere mortal who understands how to get the job done.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We just copied the John Malkovich commercials word for word and Siri responded exactly as advertised.

For us, Siri works just fine (except of Christmas Day when millions of new iPhone 4S units attempted to connect to Siri all at once). Having lived on the west coast, in the northeast, on the east coast, and on the southeast coast of the U.S., we have developed pretty much neutral American English accents. We also usually have a good network connection when conversing with Siri. If you can’t connect to the Internet, Siri will not work, as she requires access to Apple’s data centers. Also, if you speak with a heavy accent, Siri may not work as well for you – although you might be surprised. Siri is meant to learn and improve as more users provide input and as Apple builds more data centers; hence the release as a “public beta.”

Apple has released tens of thousands of betas over their history and not an inconsiderable number of public betas, either. For example, Apple, under CEO Steve Jobs, released a public beta of Safari, the default Mac browser not so long ago.

As for advertising a product that is a beta, we see no problem with it, but we would like to see disclaimers stating as much in Apple’s ads.

Lastly, unless we know the exact circumstances for why someone is an ex-employee, we take their claims of who thinks what or who might do what if they were still alive with at least a grain of salt.

39 Comments

  1. I find Siri to be both useful and enjoyable. I use “her” many times a day, such as setting timers, calculating my gas mileage, texting. Sure, there are times when “she” doesn’t quite “get” things, but overall, I’m happy with Siri. Love her attitude.

    1. same here.
      Siri works 98% perfect for me. If you learn to speak clearly, Siri doesn’t have problems.

      Sayin vs saying. Etc.
      IMO siri’s “issues” are mainly the speaker, not Siri. And Bluetooth is hit and miss with me, I have two bluetooth devices, a jawbone in the ear icon hd and a blueant st4 speakerphone in the car.
      The jawbone is pretty damn good, the st4 isn’t. And I say it’s more of the nature of the speakerphone not the device itself. I can “aim” my voice at it and speak slower/clearer and it works fine.

      1. I agree on the bluetooth. Siri is painful with the built-in bluetooth in my car. Usually, I get through dialling from contacts perfectly until she needs to ask a question about which number. It then disconnects. I am unable to dictate a message due to this. It is a little disappointing as that is why I upgraded from the 4. so I would be able to work and drive. I am sure it will improve but at this time it is unusable with bluetooth imo.

        1. i wouldn’t blame Siri for that though, I think Bluetooth in general just isn’t as good as the phones mic.
          Road noise etc just make it annoying.

          The jawbone works great though, even in public with other people talking around you.. It works just fine.

    2. How do you use her to calculate gas mileage?
      Btw Siri works good for me. The only thing that annoys me is when she takes 20-30 seconds to do something. That’s prolly my network though and rarly happens.

      1. ask Siri. “what is xxx divided by xx”
        Xxx= miles driven, xx= gallons put in.

        That’s a general math question Siri checks.
        But there could be a way to ask Siri in a different way, that’s how I’d do it though.

  2. And what about our human communication…. Don’t we misunderstand many times or give the wrong answers!!!???? Human communication can be quite fragile at times.

    1. One difference (which I think Apple should incorporate into Siri) is that people will usually repeat back or ask confirmation if they don’t think they heard it right, especially in a noisy environment.

      Siri should ask “did you mean…” if it’s not 100% sure. And there really should be more blue underlines to indicate uncertainty–some of the mistakes even in quiet settings are so off the wall I don’t know how the algorithms could’ve possibly thought that’s what I said.

      1. I’ve found that if you correct what she thinks you said by clicking on it and typing what you actually said (not what you meant but what you actually said), she seems to get noticeably better with the same request next time. Especially with proper names.

        1. I know, and I’ve done that. Problem is, sometimes Siri has already executed the command it *thinks* you wanted. Like a normal human, it should do the equivalent of “sorry, can you please repeat that?”

          1. Yeah a command double check for misheard words makes sense. Though I wouldn’t want her to always do that, maybe it would make sense for a training mode for her to stop and ask you what you meant.

            Even though she doesn’t seem to make those mistakes with me very often you can still correct the command (even after the wrong one has been executed) by scrolling back up to your original command. It feels like I’m helping to make her better that way and it does seem to me like she gets it right more often the next time too.

  3. It’s hard to know what Jobs would have done – but Apple did need a compelling feature for the new iPhone.
    But I doubt that Jobs would have let the new interface for the Apple TV be released… It is amateurish, and a big step backwards.

    1. I think what would really make that new interface usable would be if the remote app on the phone or iPad mirrored the icons on the screen. That interface is just begging to be touched to be more usable.

  4. Siri responded the same to me as Malkovich. I then asked if the iPhones got drunk in the bar.
    She replied, “Don’t expect me to get you home.”
    To my wife, “Neither of us are driving” and wanted to call a cab…

  5. I can’t use Siri on my iPhone 4. So I downloaded Evi from the App Store and it works on the iP4 just like Siri on the 4S. It’s brilliant. Sitting in a Greek restaurant, I couldn’t remember the Greek for “aubergine”. I said “Translate aubergine into Greek” and it replied with “μελιτζανι” (..I think I’ve typed that correctly!..) – and it gave perfect answers for (..as well as accurately turning my speech into text..) “Where on the English coast are the Seven Sisters?” and “Tell me about Bruce Willis in the film Surrogates”.

    It’s perfect!

  6. In terms of it recognising things Sir is very good. In terms of it being a feature I want to use it just isn’t there. Part of that is the limited functionality in the UK, but some of it is that I just don’t want to be talking to my phone. A lot of the time I’m making appointments whilst taking to someone else, so I can’t talk to Siri as well – even if I wanted to.

    In part, Siri, or indeed any voice command system is personal choice, no matter how good it is, people will do things the way they prefer. I’m fine with that and have no problem with Siri. I think the problem they have is that because it is so good in terms of recognition, any limitations in terms of what it can do and what it can tap into become more noticeable.

  7. Personally, I don’t use Siri. Not because I think it’s bad or anything, I just have had an iPhone without Siri for so long that I’m so used to how I use it already. If I need to search for something, I just go to Safari and Google it. 😉

    As for this whole larger issue of Tim Cook vs. Steve Jobs, I think it’s pretty silly to expect Tim Cook to be Steve Jobs. Only Steve Jobs could be Steve Jobs. And it’s highly unlikely that anyone who would come in to succeed him could achieve the same revolutionary quality of Steve Jobs. (Maybe Jony Ive, but still…) So there will of course be a culture change, the impact of which will only be seen over time.

  8. Seriously Siri is getting better. There was a time where I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, but lately she’s been listening. I would still like her to read WolframAlpha results to me.

  9. The Royal ‘We’ that MDN consistently uses in their take sounds exceptionally absurd in this one (“Having lived on the west coast, in the northeast, on the east coast, and on the southeast coast of the U.S., we have developed pretty much neutral American English accents.”) Did MDN collectively move “their” office, together with entire staff, from West coast, to the Northeast, to East coast and then Southeast coast??

    There is nothing wrong with running one-man shops. MDN surely looks exactly like it is a one-man shop. Since nowhere on the site can one find any “About Us” info with list of staff, one can only deduce that it is the staff of one, which is perfectly OK, and makes MDN no less attractive than if it were run by a bunch of people. It is just a bit over the top when the royal ‘we’ is used too much in the editorial texts.

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