Apple’s future is Siri

“The iPhone shows no signs of going away, and it’s possible to imagine that we’ll still be carrying some form of computing device in our pockets for decades to come. But the way we interact with our phones is already changing,” Will Oremus writes for Slate. “Touchscreens and buttons are giving way to voice assistants such as Siri, Google, Alexa, and Cortana.”

“The Echo — or Google’s rival, Home — can’t literally replace your iPhone, in the sense that you can’t carry it around in your pocket everywhere you go. But you can carry Alexa or Google Assistant anywhere: The software behind the Echo and the Home could theoretically serve as the brains behind any number of devices, including your phone,” Oremus writes. “Apple can make its own version of the Echo, of course, and it announced on June 5 that it is doing just that. It will be called the HomePod, and it’s entirely possible that it will be a better piece of hardware than either the Echo or Google Home. But as with the self-driving car, Apple won’t be able to win on hardware and user interface alone. The smart speaker, like the vehicle, is just a dumb vessel for the artificially intelligent software that drives it.”

“Apple, of all companies, should have seen this coming. Siri was on the very leading edge of artificially intelligent assistants when Apple bought it back in 2010. But Apple didn’t realize what it had. The company saw Siri as a nifty feature to improve its flagship device, the iPhone. As such, it never made the kind of investment in Siri that would have been needed to turn it into something much bigger,” Oremus writes. “But other companies saw Siri and thought: We can do that. And so they did. Each of the big five tech companies now has its own A.I. shop and its own A.I. assistant, and some of them have arguably surpassed Siri in capabilities.”

“More importantly, Apple’s rivals—Amazon in particular—thought more creatively about the type of devices an A.I. assistant might lend itself to,” Oremus writes. “while Apple was busy building tablets and watches that worked like iPhones, Amazon went out and built a brand-new type of device that worked very differently… Apple’s future, in short, is not a device—not a small one like a phone or a big one like a car. It’s Siri.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Siri is an important part of Apple future. Apple is very large. So large that most people cannot wrap their heads around immensity.

As for Apple’s HomePod, well over a year ago, we correctly predicted that Apple would debut a “Siri Speaker” and, when they finally got around to it, they’d be called a follower for doing so. We outlined why a “Siri Speaker” — Apple’s second Siri-centric device after AirPods — might work better for people, even when Siri is ever-present inside our iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. And, we stated our expectation that Apple’s “Siri Speaker’ would quickly take the coveted premium portion of the market:

Something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.MacDailyNews, March 29, 2016

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.MacDailyNews, June 15, 2016

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away from Amazon’s Echo since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users. — MacDailyNews, May 10, 2017

28 Comments

  1. I hate Siri, Siri never gets my dictation like it did a couple of years ago. Ever since Jobs died year by year Siri gets worse for me. My daughter’s Samsung has no issue with my speech. It gets it right almost every time. I have an iPhone 7 second release. I have wiped it twice. I hate Siri and she has been told many many times.

  2. I’ll never understand why Apple didn’t put Siri on desktops and notebooks. Apple could have had an extra edge but only allowed Siri on iPhones and iPads. What’s up with that? Sometimes it just seems as though Apple throws opportunities away. I only say that because I never know the reasons why Apple does the things it does.

    Do you really think the HomePod is going to take market share away from the Echo? The Echo is much more reasonably priced than the HomePod and I believe that pushes the market share in the direction of Amazon’s Echo device. Heck, Amazon is always offering sales for the Echo, Echo Dot, etc. Apple doesn’t offer the types of sales Amazon does. Everything seems to be in Amazon’s favor.

    1. “Do you really think the HomePod is going to take market share away from the Echo?”
      Mathematically, even if Apple only sold one… if you assume Echo had 100% market share, they would then have 99% market share. So, it’s a sure thing that Echo will lose market share.

      Will HomePod outsell the Echo? Interesting question, but I don’t think so. Apple is going after “people with money” like they always have, so if they have a majority of the “people with money”, then it’s a profitable business for them. That’s really all that matters.

  3. Apple’s latest attempts to make Siri more conversational have resulted in my smartphone sometimes sounding really dumb:

    Me: “Set the timer for 3 minutes.”
    Siri: “Don’t overcook that egg!”
    MyThotBalloon: “I’m not cooking an egg. Dumba–.”

    Me: “What’s the weather now?”
    My iPhone displays the weather information for a clear, calm and sunny winter morning.
    Siri: “It’s not looking very nice right now.”
    MyThotBalloon: “Last week we had a blizzard. Today’s weather is wonderful! Dumba–.”

    I’ve turned off Siri’s voice completely so I don’t have to listen to the extraneous commentary.

    1. Whenever I read of somebody complaining of problems with Siri, I like to ask Siri the exact phrase mentioned.

      Me: “Set the timer for 3 minutes”
      Siri: “OK. Three minutes and counting …”

      Me: “What’s the weather now?”
      Siri: “It appears to be partly cloudy right now in {my town} with a temperature of 23℃”

      I get Siri to set the timer multiple times each week, especially when my hands are occupied or messy and I’ve never had any of those smart comments that you complain about. When I asked about the weather, I was given a concise and accurate summary of the weather outside my window.

      Do others get that extraneous commentary? Is there a hidden setting to give Siri an annoying attitude, or alternatively to learn to behave and treat the user with respect?

      Maybe Siri is clever than we give her credit for and can automatically decide that certain users deserve to be treated with contempt?

      1. I myself do occasionally get the extraneous comments reported by CL above. For some common queries Siri seems to choose one of several comments randomly. Some of the comments interpret the information in a way that’s cute but not helpful. (It reminds me of Clippy.)

      2. Agree. I have never gotten flippant answers from Siri. Of course, I don’t chit-chat with her either. We have more of a “business relationship”: I ask for a timer, send a message, create a reminder, weather or provide me an answer to something I am interested in. I am disappointed that she frequently gets what I am asking wrong, and she will display a result rather than speaking back. If I was in a position to read the results, I wouldn’t have spoken the request; I would have typed it.

  4. Well, that’s depressing. Siri’s main problems aren’t the way it says thing, and what voice it uses. It’s problem is that it’s just so damned dumb and slow.

  5. My first iphone was the 3GS and currently have the iphone 5s. One feature I refuse to use to Siri. Every upgrade in Os that’s the first thing I diable. To me unless your blind or disabled there is no need for me to use it. I think it dumbs down people that don’t need it.

  6. One thing that really annoys me about Siri is if I ask it to name a song that’s playing on a radio I’m listening to, if the Music player is open (even in the background but music paused) it will just tell me the name of the song in Music player.

    To get it to work you have to quit Music player and ask it again, which sucks.

  7. I’ve read that some Siri engineers have left as they are in disagreement with Apple’s privacy policy. Apparently Apple flushes out all the data about you frequently, too frequently to the engineers thinking as without data Siri can’t get ‘smarter’. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon have way looser privacy rules than Apple. Google keeps your data for ever and builds and builds your profile including all the info they’ve collected from your web browsing, map data, gmail etc. The more data they have on you the more ‘intelligent’ their voice assistant might be.

    Because they know so much about you, even if you ‘mumble’ something or are vague, their voice assistant might ‘get it’ vs Siri. Just like a close family member like your spouse can sometimes seem to ‘read your mind’. Tell your wife “I’m going to get milk” and she might know which grocery you’re probably going to without you elaborating etc…

    As long as Apple has such super stringent privacy rules it will always have trouble leap frogging competitors who have no such barriers (i.e ethical considerations ) .

    (from a FINANCIAL standpoint as well the other companies have an advantage, because they SELL your data to advertisers , they can use that extra money to fund stuff like A.I research. Apple has to dig into profits from elsewhere. )

    1. It’s a good job that Apple makes profits on a scale that no other companies do. As a result, Apple can finance its research honestly, rather than resort to selling sell data sneakily gathered from its customers in order to make ends meet.

      1. I Didn’t question Apple’s ethics or state that it doesn’t have money but what I’m pointing out as usual is just facts (like Amazon, Google etc are using data mining — which makes billions for them — to in part fund A.I)

        I can get down voted because people read some ‘ethics’ or whatever they’re imagining in my post, (that I’m asking Apple to throw privacy away etc — but look at it, it really isn’t there) . Also it doesn’t change the facts.

        Maybe better for people to suggest HOW Apple is to overcome Amazon, Google, Facebook’s DATA ADVANTAGES while KEEPING it’s PRIVACY RULES rather that just down voting those like me who are just pointing out Apple’s tricky conundrum (i.e protect privacy but get more stupid A.I ) ? So any suggestions… ?

        Sticking one’s head in sand isn’t going to change the facts of Apple’s rivals advantages (that’s why the Siri engineers quit), solutions are needed.

        Also unfortunately due to LACK of P.R or Advertising 99.99 % of normal consumer don’t know or understand Apple’s stand on privacy or its’ superiority (have you seen an Ad where privacy advantages of Apple products is trumpeted?) Tim Cook only talks about it in tech conferences etc for nerds which normal consumers, and apparently local politicians , don’t pay attention to…

        When I point out that google is spying some of my friends and that’s why they are getting Ads TARGETED to THEM they say .. “Cool! , I like getting ads on stuff I’m into ” (People don’t really get the danger of loss of privacy–hey, 80% use Android phones, hundreds of millions use gmail, Facebook etc. that is also simply data driven true fact not ‘my desire’ — many people don’t care about privacy — whether privacy advocates like it or not).

        1. sigh,
          down voters again for a factual post.

          Like I said I’m NOT making a MORAL STANCE that Apple is stupid or anything to protect privacy or that Google etc is better. I’m just pointing out that a company like Google that knows so much about a person through web history (what you like, where you shop, kind of news you read), your life (through gmail), where you go (through maps) etc etc will simply have A.I that is more intelligent than SIRI which knows nothing (or practically nothing relatively).

          And What ever data Apple collects (apparently by Apple engineers reports) they flush away regularly. Other data is randomized unlike Google which keeps detailed personalized databases on each person (including your entire Google search history) .

          Saying that “I don’t Apple mind Apple having the info” is not enough because Apple DOES NOT GATHER A LOT of the INFO in the FIRST PLACE. compared to Google. (I’m putting all cap because down voters don’t seem to get it). For example Google reads your gmails and scans your gmail photos with photo recognition software and puts the stuff into a database , Apple doesn’t. ( Again I’m NOT pointing out Apple is wrong here, I’m just point out facts… )

          Down voting me thus is like down voting SOMEONE WHO IS MARELY TELLING BAD NEWS WHICH is the TRUTH like “IT’S RAINING OUTSIDE” (dudes disagreeing with me WITHOUT POINTING OUT WHERE I’M OFF — that the more they know about you the more smart an A.I is — IS DUMB . Look I didn’t cause the rain… or the realities of Google etc A.I advantages, I’m just pointing it out. )

          So how do you think Apple can improve without invading privacy?
          (like I said from what I read Siri engineers were under a lot of pressure to improve Siri but finally quit as they said Google’s privacy invasion tactics is simply to big to surmount if Apple adheres so strongly to privacy — Again ! I’m not saying apple is wrong , I’m just pointing out a problem… )

    2. I appreciate greatly that Apple appears to have a concern for my privacy; however, I really don’t have a problem with them knowing a lot about me with a couple of caveats: NEVER provide this information to anyone else (including the government, or perhaps, ESPECIALLY the government), and if that policy changes, I have the opportunity to wipe all such information BEFORE it is given to anyone else. Apple can mine what they want about me, just don’t sell me out as a sales target to others!

      1. This is an important consideration.

        Many businesses will gather data on their customers. The important thing is what they do with that data.

        If it’s encrypted, anonymous and always kept in house, then few people would be too alarmed. The problem comes when a company gathers information and then tries to monetise that data by selling it to third parties, often without the consent or even the knowledge of the individuals.

        Providing sensitive data about individuals but without including their name doesn’t mean that it can never be linked to that person by data mining and cross referencing with other data. Anonymous medical records could be sold to a third party who develops a technique to identify the names of the patients and sell that information to insurance companies. An individual could then be offered disadvantageous rates compared to somebody who’s confidential details had not been compromised.

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