Siri, why have you fallen behind other digital assistants?

“Apple has a reputation for entering markets late — think portable music players or smartphones — and then blowing away competitors with a superior product,” Tom Simonite writes for Wired. “When it comes to Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, that storyline appears to be playing out in reverse.”

“Apple revealed Siri with the iPhone 4S in October 2011, one day before cofounder Steve Jobs died,” Simonite writes. “It took other tech giants years to catch up: Amazon’s Alexa assistant appeared in 2014 as part of the Echo home speaker, and the unimaginatively named Google Assistant appeared only last summer. Today, those relative newcomers offer more features than their predecessor, and get a more central role in their makers’ product plans.”

“A Google product event Wednesday underscored the growing gap. Google Assistant was positioned as central to nearly all products the company unveiled: wireless earphones; two new smartphones; two new home speakers; and a laptop computer,” Simonite writes. “What’s more, Google executives showed off features of Google Assistant so far unmatched by Siri and Apple. For example, the new Google Home speakers can be configured to recognize different people from the sounds of their voices. Say ‘Hey Google, call mom,’ and the device knows to use your contacts to phone your mother, not your mother-in-law. Amazon’s Alexa also can’t do that yet.”

“Apple may be saving some Siri upgrades for the HomePod’s launch next month. The company typically waits until new features or technology are fully polished, in contrast to Google’s approach of launching beta services and iterating in public,” Simonite writes. “An April study by marketer Stone Temple that asked 5,000 general knowledge questions to virtual assistants reported that Google’s got 91 percent correct, compared to Alexa’s 87 percent, and Siri’s 62 percent.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s dedication to privacy hamstrings Siri. Google et al. have no such issue. To them, users’ privacy is to be trampled.

It’s not at all apparent that the general public values their privacy enough or even knows that Apple’s privacy is paramount, but the average Joe/Jane does seem to regard Siri as not too bright, putting into question whether Apple’s commitment to privacy will every really pay off; i.e. translate to increased product sales.

Apple product users seem to value their privacy. Non-Apple product users, by definition, do not value their privacy (or they’d be Apple product users).

So, what’s the inflection point? Do Google and the others need to have an Equifax event befall it for their product users to wake up? Would they even wake up if Google etc. did have a cataclysmic breach? We have our doubts.

12 Comments

  1. Actually, I think Siri continues to be unfairly underrated, with ridiculous expectations. Alexa et al are mostly gimmick. I use my Dot to tell me the weather if I’m too lazy to look out the window or move away from what I’m doing on my phone or iMac.

    1. I would like to agree but I can’t as Siri, used to be able to do things that it no longer does. The team that is working on Siri since the team that came with Siri when Apple bought it left, just doesn’t seem to get the product. Siri just seems to have developed dementia as it has aged.

  2. Apples dedication to privacy has nothing to do with the problems this article is complaining about . it said the biggest use case for a virtual assistant was general knowledge answers. it goes on to discuss language interpretation – again nothing to do with privacy – SIRI can do this – it’s a simple matter or writing a program to do it like Google does. And SIRI can “call mom”

    1. Yes I was going to raise the exact same point.

      I think this perhaps highlights a Typical Apple behaviour which sometimes becones a problem as shown most recently with the ATV and previously the iPad. That is Apple makes a big leap which we see with facial recognition now and Siri initially. They then tend to sit on it even if they are working hard behind the scenes so that they can anounce a big update some time later creating a bigger buzz and upgrade over persistent if gradual improvement. SJ was the Master of exploiting that potential impact which worked fine while the opposition was disjointed and unfocused. Problem is there is no showman like him to take true advantage (or cover the negativity of the delay) while these days the opposition in Google and Amazon are far more in control of their own developments and thus competitors have definitely upped their game so that they can progress matters far quicker than Apple seem to believe they will.

      Thus instead of the competitors simply closing the gap, before Apple introduces that leap ahead again, they are now moving ahead at times, catching Apple out on its timing. This itself within Apple can often seem to be dictated by other developments or products and how they will all work together and perfecting it to take full advantage of any substantial update and I suspect disagreements within about goals all lead to delays even if it means more consistency and usibility in so doing. Certainly in the case of Siri, indeed perhaps other products, they will have to modify their tactic of big move then rest on their laurels for too long. Though how they do that without making updates seem less impactful and more bland is their problem. As things mature this is already a criticism in constant product improvement and even Google said it’s difficult to bring eye catching advances to their phones because of strong existing capabilities.

      Perhaps more focus is required by Apple rather than seeing what they feel are universal barriers as an excuse to take their foot off of the development accelerator only to see others surprise them by making a better job of confronting those perceived barriers. Always dangerous to underestimate the opposition simply because history has allowed them to so often do so.

    2. Eddy and Siri are a couple which means too much beer and lounging. Couple that with both having the attitude of “after all I’ve done for you” and you know it’s not going to end well for anyone.

  3. What the crap does this have to do with privacy? Even if it did, Safari allows ads to pop up based on what I’ve searched for. You can opt in sending information to apps. It would be wonderful if Siri would adjust to my pronunciation of words over time.

    Siri has to be the worst product I’ve used from Apple. I’ve noticed it will get better and then completely miss words. Steve Jobs would fire that entire team if he were alive.

    1. New around here?

      I agree with your take on SIRI.

      For example: Two markets Apple entered late and revolutionized and later dominated: iPod and iPhone.

      Two markets Apple introduced AS REVOLUTIONARY: SIRI and Apple TV. Now second class and later dominated by competitors.

      It is what it is …

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