Mossberg: Why does Apple’s Siri seem so dumb?

“In addition to the iPhone, Siri is now on the iPad, and was recently added to the Mac. It’s also on Apple TV. Via the phone, it’s the key user interface in Apple’s CarPlay infotainment system for autos and even the soon-to-be-released wireless AirPod earbuds,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “Siri is also the point of the spear for Apple in the coming tech war, just getting started, to make artificial intelligence a natural, conversational part of your world — at home, on your phone, in your car, everywhere. And Apple had a big head start with Siri.”

“So why does Siri seem so dumb? Why are its talents so limited? Why does it stumble so often?” Mossberg writes. “When was the last time Siri delighted you with a satisfying and surprising answer or action?”

“For me at least, and for many people I know, it’s been years,” Mossberg writes. “It seems to me that Apple has wasted its lead with Siri. And now Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and others are on the march… In its current incarnation, Siri is too limited and unreliable to be an effective weapon for Apple in the coming AI wars. It seems stagnant.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Because Apple values their users’ privacy — unlike all of the other outfits’ mentioned — and their work on Differential Privacy has only just begun.

SEE ALSO:
Apple releases tvOS 10 with new Siri features, improved search, dark mode, and more – September 13, 2016
Apple’s Siri is set to control your home – September 6, 2016
Personal assistant bots like Apple’s Siri have a serious problem – July 18, 2016
Tim Bajarin: Siri is crucial to the Apple’s future – July 5, 2016
Apple’s Siri feels like a true personal assistant on Macintosh – July 1, 2016
The time has come to think different about Apple’s Siri – June 30, 2016
Conversing with Apple’s Siri in macOS Sierra already feels almost natural – June 22, 2016
Apple’s Siri digital assistant made Cortana look bad at WWDC – June 14, 2016

57 Comments

    1. yeah- The only one I can recall is (the roll out) when the presenter asked siri if he needed to bring an umbrella and she would quickly bring up the weather with the canned rain response. It looked brilliant at the time. Now we know she was a one trick pony when it came to artificial intelligence.

  1. Siri is smarter than your honors student. But not as smart as my dog. Anyway, it hardly ever works for me. Another piece of junque that Apple has made in the long line of “We don’t make junque” story. Somebody probably needs to be fired, and somebody needs to be hired.

    1. Much as I wish Siri would further progress, compared to what we had/have with Plaintalk speech recognition and script running on Mac (still sort of available via Dictation), Siri is FAR better! In my home environment, with my hardware and my articulate speech, I rarely run into problem with Siri understanding me. Plaintalk’s speech recognition was abominable! Note that Apple is now using Nuance’s speech recognition, as found in Dragon. It is added as the front end of what is actually Siri, that being an expert system and associated database with text in and text out.

      1. Even a bigger shocker. My wife has a iPad Pro and a stylus…no fsck-ing handwriting recognition. Something that worked on the Newton Message Pad over 20 years ago (I am getting old). That is sad. So what does M$ do have commercials showing how stupidly the stylus is utilized on iPads. Good catch by their marketing people.

        1. Apple has Inkwell on Macs, which essentially is Newton handwriting recognition. You have to have a recognized pen tablet (Wacom…) for it to run. So why hasn’t Apple ported that over to iOS?

          Reading at article over at iMore, they know of no handwriting recognition software designed to work with the iPad Pro. Seriously?!

          http://www.imore.com/best-apps-handwriting-apple-pencil-and-ipad-pro

          An article at 9to5 Mac recommends GoodNotes 4 for handwriting recognition as well as its other features. It does indeed support the Apple Pencil! But the recognized text is only good for search or copy/paste into something else.

          https://9to5mac.com/2016/04/06/the-best-ios-apps-for-taking-notes-with-apple-pencil-ipad-pro/

          Digging around on my own I found PenReader Handwriting Recognition at the App Store. It also supports the Apple Pencil. But all the reviews hate it.

          On regular iOS devices I’d recommend trying WritePad or WritePad Pro. But they don’t offer any direct support for Apple Pencil, as of yet anyway.

          Meanwhile, Microsoft tried providing handwriting recognition during the beta of their first touch version of Windows over a decade ago and removed it, the results were so poor. But I see they added it to the Surface as of 2013. It’s getting good reviews.

  2. Sorry, MDN, that excuse does not cut it. Siri should be able to tell me about what’s on TV tonight. If I have airline tickets in my Apple Wallet app, it should be able to tell me about my flight: Time, Gate, Seat, flight duration, status. Siri knows NOTHING about it. If I have a movie ticket, Siri should be able to tell me my seats, theater number, start time, duration, etc. There are a lot of questions Siri should be able to answer. Instead it often does a web search and has me click through to figure out what is relevant. I asked: What’s the capital of Montanna. It said “Checking on that… Here’s what I found on the web for ‘What’s the capital of Montanna.” The search result had it. They showed a Wiki entry. But it couldn’t say: “The capital of Montana is Helena.” Why not?

    If you are on a web page or in an iBook and you tell Siri: “Read this to me.” Siri will tell you that there’s nothing to read.

    This isn’t just a matter of Apple respecting privacy. It’s bad software. Siri is stupid and nearly worthless in its current form. Apple needs to dedicate more resources to it. Then it will have to promote it again to people who have given up on it.

    1. Apple has designed iOS to not share data/communicate easily between Apps. This level of sandboxing is part of why iOS is considered more secure than Android. At the same time that same sandboxing is making it harder for Apple to implement functions like “Read this to me” or telling you about flight information provided in an email or calendar entry connected to your account.

    2. From what I read, the original Siri, before Apple bought it, was able to more intimately access a variety of services for more detailed answers to queries. Once Apple bought Siri, a lot of that was tossed out of Siri. I have to wonder why. I’d dare a guess that a lot of companies couldn’t come to an agreement with Apple about such access. I keep hoping Apple will restore this depth of Internet data access.

      Example: I dug around at AOL TV (Huffington Post) until I found a URL I can use to find my local TV listings, direct and simple. I’d think Siri could become ‘smart’ enough to at least walk a user through the process of finding that link then save it to memory for future use.

      Siri has a long way to go in the smarts department.

      1. I’m leaning towards the extreme sandboxing of Apps and data in iOS as the major difficulty in doing everything Siri was originally designed to do. If the same companies’ app’s data is accessible by Android for use by the Assistant, I would reasonably assume it is the design of iOS and or policies on Apple’s end, not any agreements for access that have not been made.

  3. First the right wing drivel here is the best of the “let me jerk off in my parents’ basement” sentiment so prevalent amopng the intelligensia.

    second, Siri was a great product until you apple fanbois fucked it up by adding Apple’s superior “intelligence”.

    Apple is like all you assholes posting on this site- long on bullshit short on delivery

  4. For me Siri is semi-useful and I have a great internet connection. When I am mobile Siri fails as often as succeeds. Siri should not have to need an internet connection to find a contact or song that is physically on my phone.

    1. That connectivity affecting Personal Assistants’ functionality is an interesting point. Has there ever been a comparison video done on competing devices when out and about with flaky or no Internet connectivity?

  5. Google voice search, Amazon’s Alexa both make Siri look like a junior high science project. Kudos to Apple for essentially abandoning development on the platform while still pushing it out to other devices.. that’s just weird. Why bring it to the Mac in its crippled form? It’s not cute anymore and not getting any better. I just leave it off and ignore it in favor of stuff that “just works”

  6. For years while driving I would ask Siri to read my stocks, and she would read them from my stock app. Then she suddenly started responding to the same request with a general response about the indexes. Sometimes she will display the stocks on the screen and may, or may not, read them aloud after a second request to read them. Why, after years of working, did she become stupid and inconsistent.
    Like Walt, I find she correctly interprets speech but then reinterprets the question wrong. I also find that she is screwing up Maps, which always functioned great for me. I request the destination, the request is correctly parsed, and then she re-interprets the request with some sound-alike place in another city. This has been getting worse over the last two years after years of accuracy. WTF.

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