Apple’s AirPods show just how badly Siri needs an offline mode

“With the AirPods, the main and only means of audio playback control is by double-tapping above the AirPods’ stem,” Greg Barbosa writes for 9to5Mac. “Based on your settings this either activates Siri, allowing you to speak all of the basic playback commands, or controls play/pause for audio.”

“Double-tapping and only being able to play/pause controls aren’t enough for daily usage, but relying on Siri, especially when internet connections are weaker, makes for a cumbersome experience at best,” Barbosa writes. “These issues highlight the need for Apple to introduce an offline mode for Siri.”

“Voice Control, Siri’s iOS predecessor, could handle offline requests with no issue. In regards to music, Voice Control could play, pause, skip, return, and even play specific playlists all without any internet connection,” Barbosa writes. “I had to speak audibly and clearly, but it worked just as well as Siri does for me today. Why these offline functions weren’t built into Siri since day one still baffles me.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you live in an area with poor cell coverage, you know all to well valuable an offline-capable Siri would be.

Even though Voice Control was later replaced by Siri, it’s still available in iOS if you prefer it to Siri.

1. Tap the Settings app
2. Tap General
3. Tap Siri
4. Slide the Siri slider to off.

Now, when you use voice-activation features, you’ll be using Voice Control.

Voice Control only works when Siri is disabled.

Play or pause music: Say “play music.” To pause, say “pause,” “pause music,” or “stop.” You can also say “next song” or “previous song.”

Play an album, artist, or playlist: Say “play album,” “play artist,” or “play playlist” followed by the name of the artist, album, or playlist you wish to play.

Find out more about the current song: Say “what’s playing,” “who sings this song,” or “who is this song by.”

Making voice calls: Press and hold the Home button, say “call” or “dial,” then say the name or number. You can add “at home,” “work,” or “mobile.” For example:
– “Call Steve’s mobile”
– “Call the fire department”
– “Redial that last number”


  1. Why these offline functions weren’t built into Siri since day one still baffles me.”

    thats not the only baffling thing about Apple lately…. as it is clear through the stupid and disconnected decisions made at Apple lately and the narrative out there ….

    1. At least we now know why they need such a large Campus 2, the number of monkeys and typewriters in their strategy team has clearly expanded enormously in recent years.

  2. As I posted in another thread:

    Should/could Siri be used offline?
    Apple already has part of the guts of this addendum to Siri in place and ready to go. It’s called AppleScript, Automator, and Dictation. Part of it used to be called ‘Speech Recognition’, as in ‘Tell me a Joke!’, which is something Siri can’t do.

    There’s no reason all of that can’t be integrated into offline capabilities in Siri. It entirely makes sense that it all should/could and would be. <–Clue to Apple.

    🗣 ‘Turn off WiFi.’
    🗣 ’What time is it?’
    🗣 ‘Activate fonts found in my Downloads folder.’
    🗣 ‘Open LibreOffice and dictate a letter.’
    🗣 ‘What’s a synonym for ‘insanely-great’?’
    🗣 ‘Tell me a Joke!’
    🗣 'Play the 'Nuclear Explosion' sound at noon.'

    1. Not only Siri, but especially Maps.
      Google too, they only partially accommodate offline maps.

      What spells “up the creek” more than not having internet access on an internet-only application? Especially mapping and navigation.

      In addition to Google Maps, I have Here ™ Maps as well. I downloaded most of the world onto SD. Yes, you do need ample storage to do this.

      1. I’d thought about that, and see the problem.

        There could certainly be caching of local maps to help out the user. Siri knows your location and could ‘intelligently’ know what to cache.

        But expecting much more that a local map isn’t realistic. Map databases are ginormous. It’s not realistic for them to have even fair capabilities offline…

        Unless Apple provides the ability to do what you did with Google Maps: Choose what you want to download for offline access. YES, that’s a great idea. Yes, you need the drive space for it.

        1. Not counting Asia, but yes, including Russia, Here(tm) Maps occupy 20 GB on my SD. They do get updated OTA.

          So on my 128GB SD I have my 45GB Music library and Maps, as well as photos, leaving RAM free. SD is plenty fast enough for this, except maybe photos eventually. But you can move them there.

        2. One option which would require much less storage would be to cache offline maps for a designated local area as a default. There should also be a quick and easy way to change the default location. That would be useful when you are visiting another city. When you establish a route, then the maps for that route, both overview and detailed, should be automatically cached along with useful information, such as gas stations, food, and accommodations. It should be possible to store favorite routes along with cached map data, as well.

          1. A variation of what I already said:
            One option which would require much less storage would be to cache offline maps for a designated local area as a default.

            I suppose making it the default would be useful for the non-techies. It’s there, it just works, locally.

            Yes, I like the idea of detecting the user’s interests and intents (without sharing them with vile marketing interests) by auto-caching maps of where the user intends to go or is thinking about going. Good one!

            You should be on the Apple Maps team.

  3. I want to use Siri but it is pretty weak.

    Cool idea but it just doesn’t get the job done.

    Don’t you have the engineers that can get the job done after ALL THESE YEARS?

  4. It’s not the “main and only means of audio playback control.” What’s that in your pocket or on your wrist? Exactly, your iPhone or Apple Watch. Not very hard to reach in and push the volume button on the iPhone is it? Sure, in a pinch you can activate Siri through your AirPods and accomplish the same, but that definitely would not be my “main” form of control …

    1. It should be. Obviously she meant the only form of control on the device itself. AirPods are part of Apple’s mobile-first strategy. I don’t want to have to fiddle around with my phone or watch when walking down the street. It’s a first step, but I know Siri will improve. Been using my AirPods for 4 days now.

  5. Sorry but Siri isn’t good enough to be usable. Seems not to be developed further just like mac pro, imac, apple tv, time capsule, pro apps etc
    Really tried Siri outbut switched off as it is too frustrating. I do use google search which just works 99% of the time.
    Siri has great potential but Apple doesn’t get it and is over run by competitors with better products and faster time to market.

    1. Siri is almost useless. I don’t even bother trying it much anymore because is too frustrating. Even autocorrect is often terrible. I was trying to dictate a note that had the word windows in it and it capitalized Windows just like it did here, as if I were referring to MS Windows. In my note the context was clearly referring to an actual window.

  6. Why is Siri so bad? I thought it was because it WAS working partially offline. Google, Alexa and Cortana are years ahead in voice and context recognition. It doesn’t seem that Siri has improved since the iPhone 4S came out. Like all things Apple these days, progress died with Steve Jobs.

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