‘Hey Siri, why don’t you have an offline mode?’

“The success of semi-smart voice assistants opens the gates to new convenience and new frustration. We use them in the street, on public transport, in the home , office, even the car, but there’s a problem,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “The problem is that most voice assistants, including Siri, don’t have offline modes.”

“That’s frustrating for Apple users. It means you can’t use Siri to control your AirPods when you are in AirPlane Mode, won’t get any data when you try to search your Mac, and can’t discreetly ask for directions using your wired earbuds if you find yourself lost with no network connection in a bad part of town,” Evans writes. “Siri’s fatal flaw is its need to be online in order to function – it needs to speak to the Siri server to engage in the pattern matching and machine intelligence that drive its breed of semi-AI.”

“Apple wouldn’t even need to invest a huge amount in R&D in order to boost Siri with a little offline action – after all, Google already supports offline mode and the company’s aged Voice Control (retired post Siri) could already do these things,” Evans writes. “I don’t think Siri needs to be able to everything it can do online when offline. It makes perfect sense to simply support a limited number of useful features in Siri Offline Mode.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: How about, for starters, simply making Voice Control active when there is no network connection without disabling Siri?

Then just build out Voice Control to handle more tasks (see Evans’ collection of commands in his full article).

As we wrote just before Christmas:

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:

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”

Apple’s AirPods show just how badly Siri needs an offline mode – December 23, 2016

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


  1. I can’t echo this enough. Just being able to change the volume in offline mode using the Airpods would be a good start. It’s these little seemingly obvious things that leave me shaking my head when it comes to Apple. They see and integrate all of these complexities into their software and hardware that make user experience so phenomenally better than any other OS. And then users come across these albeit seldom occasions when they discover something that seems so obvious that it should have been a foregone conclusion that it would be there. I’ve already put in my feedback at the Apple site regarding this (the third day I had my Airpods and the first day I tried to use them in a sub-LTE area).

    1. I think part of the answer is that they don’t want to give users everything they possibly can at any given moment. This way they can highlight “new features” at the next WWDC. I’d even expect an offline mode this year as part of their keynote. It all feels like they’re a year or two behind the curve though, like it was with the larger screen iPhones.

      I’d also like to see AirPods/Siri play better with 3rd party apps. I can’t rewind in Audible for example like I can in Podcasts “Sorry Nick, I can’t do that.” B*tch please.

  2. Been begging for this for many years. My cellular connection is so spotty where I live (hills and canyons) that Siri is offline when I need her the most – while I am driving, alone in my car where I would like to make phone calls, send texts, take note, add reminders to myself. I don’t need Siri at my desk or on my laptop. I need a reliable assistant when I am out and about. Even with a good connection, the round trip communications back to the mother ship where Siri lives simply takes longer than it should.

  3. “It means you can’t use Siri to control your AirPods when you are in AirPlane Mode”

    At least don’t use silly examples: Bluetooth is disabled by Airplane Mode, so one couldn’t use AirPods anyway.

    1. Turning Airplane mode on merely auto-switches Bluetooth (and wifi) off. You can manually toggle both back on and still have the “airplane mode” enabled (at this point, only cell service remains disabled).

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