Can Apple’s Siri transition from ditz to key to the company’s future?

“The iPhone’s talking pal Siri has, to date, been about as helpful as an umbrella in a hurricane,” Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for The Wall Street Journal. “That’s about to change. At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted new features and catch-up software tweaks, from the iPhone and Mac to the Apple Watch and TV. One of the few technologies that spanned all those products was Siri, the virtual assistant that lets us talk and interact with gadgets like they know us. Siri is growing up, and moving to the center of Apple’s universe.”

“Apple was one of the first tech giants, back in 2011, to build talking tech into everyday devices. At the time, they called it a beta, and it’s felt like test software for too long. Siri now receives over 2 billion requests a week. Even so, when I ask Siri to help with something, it often just pops up a random search or misunderstands in a way that makes me say, ‘Oh, Siri,’ like it’s a lost puppy,” Fowler writes. “Meanwhile, Apple lost ground to rivals like Google. The search giant’s Voice Search and Now services (currently being wrapped into its forthcoming Google Assistant) integrate data about our lives to predict what we need and respond with context. The most surprising threat to Apple’s voice dominance is Amazon, whose Alexa, built inside the Echo speaker, has become an unofficial member of my household. Why? It’s always a quick shout away, ready to perform basic tasks like set a timer or play a song.”

Fowler writes, “If Apple is to have a future beyond the iPhone, it will have to master voice.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Fowler has obviously never worn an Apple Watch. There, Siri works better than anywhere so far; certainly better than on any iPhone or iPad to date. And, there, on the wrist (for the last year, no less) is where you can clearly see the answer to our headline is “Obviously.”

Having access to a Siri that fulfills her promise is reason alone to own an Apple Watch.

For us, and for many others, Siri is markedly more accurate and useful on Apple Watch than it is on any other device. Why that is, we don’t know, but it is. Somehow, the Apple Watch units have a better microphones than our iPhone 6s Plus devices – for Siri, at least. — MacDailyNews, May 31, 2016

15 Comments

  1. I’ve always had about a 90% and abovbe sucess rate with Siri, it acutally works pretty well… for me at least. Could it be better, Absolutely! does it need improvements? Yes of course! I do have a suggestion where Mr. Fowler can put his umbrella.

  2. I have a very low voice, I joke that it is subhuman because people regularly do not hear me, not because of volume, but frequency. So Siri does a much worse job than for “normal” people. It does fairly well understanding words when I try, but rarely gives any useful answers. I do not like talking on the phone, much less to it, and I have never had any desire to argue over what I said with my computer.

  3. I was dissappointed in the event yesterday. There was so very little announced to improve MacOS. I felt like I was attending a Hello Kitty event. New sparkly toys. Nothing about accomplishing work.

  4. I am a foreigner, fluent and proficient, but non-native speaker, with a foreign accent. Siri understands practically everything I tell her. I dictate e-mails and texts while walking (to avoid looking like a smartphone zombie in the street, not to mention running into something/someone).

    You mileage may vary.

  5. Even with perfect voice recognition, there are still plenty of times when using spoken commands is inappropriate. We love text messages because you don’t have to talk to people, since more often than not it’s inconvenient at that moment. I like how well Siri works on my Watch (within strict parameters, many queries still don’t work or you get asked to search on iPhone), but I think touch is and will be the dominant paradigm and I hope they don’t force too much of the voice stuff.

    1. I agree. Ever since 1985, prognosticators have been touting a day when we all will video conference and talk to our computers as though they are friends, but it never happens. Instead the masses have flocked to instant messaging with emoticons, and look upon those who use voice control or yak loudly to their phones in public with disdain. Most people admit they will only use Siri in the privacy of their own car for directions. Apple has made some really good strides with Siri, but all I can say is I’ll never want to use it as anything but a last resort whether out in public, in my own living room, or least, late at night when others are sleeping. I’m sticking with my 3rd gen AppleTV precisely because of this.

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