97% of iPhone users are too embarrassed to talk to Siri in public

“Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and OK Google are all hot names in tech right now. Digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence are the next big thing for Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Consumers however, might not be as excited. We set out to understand more about how consumers are using these agents as well as how they feel about them,” Carolina Milanesi blogs for Creative Strategies.

Creative Strategies ran a study in the U.S.A. that focused on 500 mainstream consumers and their use of smartphone-based voice assistants.

“21% of our panel have never used Siri, 34% have never used OK Google and 72% have never used Cortana,” Milanesi writes. “When we look within each ecosystem, the numbers get better: only 2% of iPhone owners have never used Siri and only 4% of Android owners have never used OK Google. The majority of active users within their distinct ecosystems admit to use these features only rarely or sometimes: 70% for Siri and 62% for OK Google. (Unfortunately, we did not have a statistically significant number of Windows Phone users in our panel).”

MacDailyNews Take: Ha! Microsoft is, as always, a joke.

“39% of these consumers use voice assistants in the home, 51% in the car, 1.3% at work and 6% in public,” Milanesi writes. “Interestingly, iPhone owners’ usage in the car is even higher than average at 62% and Android is lower at 37%, which is somewhat surprising given the high attach rate of Google Maps in Android… 20% of consumers who said they never used a voice assistant stated they had not done so because they feel uncomfortable talking to their technology, especially in public. With public usage as low as 3% for iPhone users, it seems users are still uncomfortable talking to their devices.”

“Even more fascinating is this happens in the US where consumers are accustomed to talking loudly on phones in public. The US is the land of iDEN, the technology that, for many years, allowed consumers to use their phones like a walkie-talkie,” Milanesi writes. “A very similar technology called Push-to-Talk never took off in Europe, mainly because consumers felt it was not socially acceptable to have your conversation heard by people in your vicinity. In Asia, most people still cover their mouth when talking on the phone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We see plenty of uncouth fragmandroid settlers screaming into their poor man’s iPhones in public, so perhaps Milanesi is correct in positing that “Android users show the highest usage of voice assistant in public with 12%, possibly because more Android users are likely to have experienced iDEN-based mobile phones in the past than iPhone users.”

Apple Watch etiquette (or how not to be a rude jerk) – April 13, 2015
Apple’s Siri intelligent personal assistant raises new issues of iPhone etiquette – December 2, 2011

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Tom R.” for the heads up.]


  1. ” In Asia, most people still cover their mouth when talking on the phone.”

    Clearly, this author has NEVER been to mainland China. Shouting into phones, no matter who is next to you is the norm there. Covering the mouth? Never saw it, not in 7 years of living there.

    1. I saw it regularly in Japan. My daughter who was 2 when we moved there, and now an adult living back in the US of A, instinctively puts her hand to her mouth when she speaks Japanese. (Kinda funny, to me). But this is mostly a female custom. I have seen it in other lands too, but not as much.

      1. Yes, Japan (and South Korea) do cover their mouths when talking on cell phones. But they are only a TINY fraction of Asia. By no means at all is this a normal Asian practice. China alone demolishes that idea.

        1. Also (as u probably well know) Japan and China are 2 completely different cultures. Both in terms of mannerisms and convention. It is no surprise that those behaviors differ. The author unfortanately casts an overly-wide net when referring to ‘Asia’..

  2. I rarely use Siri because the rate of failure of her doing what I want is higher than the success rate, so I just do most things manually. Checking the time is what she’s good former me, most of the time.

    1. IMHO for all versions of PDA voice systems, they’re still too clunky for a sense of reliable success when used. There are several reasons why. It’s simply the current state of speech recognition (which is separate from the ‘AI’ software) and the fact that there really is no such thing as actual ‘artificial intelligence’. There is no serious thinking going on. The system has some text tossed at it, the text having variable levels of coherence, the text is then interpreted at some variable level of competence within the system, the ‘expert system’ then thrashes around through its database for a response, the response may involve research inquiries on the net, which means a wait period of some sort, then the collected information that is the response has to be stated as text in a way that is understood by the user, the text is then translated into audible words, hopefully with a good level of comprehension but with the ever present problems of word context and language being used.

      IOW: Lots of variables within a system that still isn’t really ‘intelligent’. The developers who can most quickly iron out the variables over the widest span of inquiries win the contest, for today. It’s a constantly moving target as our cultures and therefore our language and its meanings change. *Mind*Boggled*

  3. I just want to say, around pages 114-125 of the 2016 Internet Trends Report there’s tons more on this. Lots of really interesting slides that confirm these findings, but also put them into better context: i.e.. People don’t want to talk to their Mac or whatever at work, but they will at home….
    It also looks at speech accuracy and how significant it will be when Siri hits 99% accuracy as (I hope) it will be doing relatively soon thanks to the VoiceIQ (or whatever it is called, sorry) tech Apple recently acquired. Privacy is the key. However, add remote working and BYOD and the idea that offices are becoming things we don’t need (or often want) any more, and you have workers talking to their work at home or in their self-driving car and so on. By which I mean to say, this is nothing, it’s the beginning of the beginning, and the stats are going to be very subject to change (and I imagine Siri will always have the advantage because: Privacy).

    1. Not only that, but courtesy, too!

      I apologize profusely for having to correct you in public, but there is no other means with which to do so.

      (Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.)

  4. I have a recognizable southern accent, but those around me say I speak with a slight cross of mid-western and Texas accent.

    That said, I have about a 95% success rate. I am not embarrassed to ask Siri in public. I do it often.

  5. Siri is great, just fantastic if I want to know the time for sunset. I can’t praise Siri enough for telling me sunset will be at 8:31 pm.

    But using it out in the open for something real and having to ask over and over and rephrase? That’s a recipe for walking into a bus.

  6. I don’t understand why these AI systems have become synonymous with a voice interface. Sure you can correct a query using text input, but why can’t you just type into siri if you prefer? There are plenty of times when it isn’t appropriate, possible, or desirable to speak.

  7. More Android users are troubled sociopaths, nerds, geeks, etc.without a whit of care about how they come off here or in public as goofballs. So they exhibit Foghorn Leghorn Syndrome, I say, that is, everywhere they go. It’s a cultural but also personality type thing.

  8. Siri for turn-by-turn navigation, add to shopping list, reminders, Wolfram queries, scores, placing calls, dictating and sending text messages, lots of uses. Should get better with version 2.0 and a newer unit than my battle-scarred 4s.

  9. It might make you sound less of a geek if you could change from “Hey Siri” to one of your choice for starters. “Hey Siri” is more comfortable with the US (I think) than it is in England, for example.
    E.g., as in Star Trek: “Computer”…

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