Siri creator is surprised by how much Apple’s Siri still can’t do

“Norman Winarsky was among those present at the birth of Siri… (Winarsky headed SRI’s entrepreneurial arm at the time of Siri’s development and acquisition, and was a co-founder and board member of the original Siri company),” Corinne Purtill reports for Forbes. “In 2011, on the eve of Siri’s much-anticipated introduction on the iPhone 4S, Winarsky said he had no idea what Apple was planning to do with the technology he helped create. He did, however, ‘believe that Apple will use Siri to start another revolution.'”

“The revolution ended up a little clunkier than planned,” Purtill reports. “Seven years after that launch, Siri still at times stumbles over spoken requests and struggles to integrate the many things it should know about you into useful responses. It remains the most popular AI assistant, but usage is declining. This isn’t where Winarsky thought Siri would be at this point. ”

“Winarsky acknowledges that some of this disappointment stems from the sheer difficulty of predicting the pace of major technological advancement,” Purtill reports. “But part of it is also likely because Apple chose to take Siri in a very different direction than the one its founders envisioned. Pre-Apple, Winarsky said, Siri was intended to launch specifically as a travel and entertainment concierge… Apple launched Siri as an assistant that can help you in all areas of your life, a bigger challenge that will inevitably take longer to perfect, Winarsky said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Siri is worse than she should be today due to internal issues at Apple (Siri used to be under Eddy Cue, she’s now recently become the responsibility of Craig Federighi), but is better than the general public sentiment allows.

Apple released Siri, the first modern digital virtual assistant, in October 2011. Amazon released Alexa in November 2014. Google Assistant was released in May 2016… Why is Siri not regarded as far and away the best, but rather as notably worse than those later entrants?

Mismanagement of the project from the software to the marketing. — MacDailyNews, February 8, 2018

Siri on HomePod can actually do quite a lot – February 9, 2018
What Apple needs to do to improve Siri – February 8, 2018
Is Apple really falling behind in the artificial intelligence race? – September 5, 2017


  1. Siri is dumb for a purpose, that purpose is privacy. Apple is holding it back until they find the best solution.
    Apple can totally afford the best AI engineers in the world.

    1. Siri’s bumbling is way more elemental than limitations as a result of Apple’s privacy ethos. She has heard me say certain words thousands of times that I’ve followed with a correction (typed). First, I don’t speak with marbles in my mouth (error), and she should have learned the words, as a result, b/c of the typed correction. This is just ONE example of her lack of learning without privacy as an excuse. I’ve brought this up a number of times, but the idiot still notes my email address as, in spite of the fact it’s in my address book and, and, and the email protocol for the company has nothing to do with trucks. This is inexcusable and, again has absolutely nothing to do with privacy/security. She does an ok job of naming songs.

      1. I sympathize with you and have the same problems and because of that I up voted your post.

        But I wonder if what disgruntled SIRI engineers who have left Apple have complained about is true (which I think Cook confirmed in speeches) that Apple flushes all personal data in short time so they don’t have knowledge of you, then how can SIRI learn, for example correcting your email? Won’t SIRI start FRESH every time with the error anew?

        Or am I misunderstanding how SIRI A.I works (remembers corrections etc ) ?
        I’ve always wondered if they don’t keep a profile of me, how do they learn and REMEMBER quirks like my accent, my preferences (which will radically shorten search time I think) etc.

        Still it doesn’t excuse SIRI from fouling up basic tasks that doesn’t require personal data.

    1. Maybe you missed what I said? I’ll try again.
      They could have the best AI engineers, they choose not to hire them. I would prefer to keep my privacy intact over having Alexa or google devices listing to everything that goes on in my home, what I buy, where it’s from, what bank I’m using to buy it from. This is just my theory based on what I learned while working for Apple. They are waiting on something. Logic says it’s privacy based on the basic things they allow Siri to do.

      1. Not a fan of an always on speaker in the house, either. My impression is that the market will continue to develop regardless of privacy concerns and Apple is falling behind.

        Not trolling- I am an Amazon and Apple shareholder- but Apple has yet to show in any significant way that they can diversify the company from dependence on phone sales. iPhones sales are about 70% of Apple’s revenue and everything else is about 30%.

        Apple seems to struggle keeping the Mac and the iPad and the iPhone all updated and that just should not be for a company the size of Apple with the financial resources they have. Amazon has a lot more to show for its efforts the last 5 years than Apple and that shows no time of changing.

        I was over on the Amazon site this morning and Amazon just keeps expanding the Connected Home and AI aspects of their business. They now have cameras that you can command Alexa to push to your TV set for security or baby monitoring, for example. Apple has opted to rely on third party companies for HomeKit where Amazon and Google are building their own and leaving the door open for third parties.

        There does not seem to be anyone at Apple- at least with a public face- that is guiding the development and deployment of the interrelated AI and HomeKit technologies and they are missing an opportunity, just as they have with TV.

        Apple is spending a lot of money and hired a lot of people, but I am not seeing much of a return on the money and time.

        1. Agree with DavGreg. It seems like Apple could use more skunk work teams. Maybe APPLE has them, but things sure seem to be moving slowly in a number of areas.

          Apple should be kicking butt more often. Amazon, which started out like Ace Hardware and then became Walmart on steroids with a great web site with backend services is starting to eat everyone’s lunch. Now Amazon is a rocket company, grocery store, technology company and god knows what else. Jeff B seems possessed. He’s gobbling up the world.

          APPLE, you need to get on the stick. Your auto plans are going nowhere. You appear rudderless.

          Maybe it is time for TIM to move one. Maybe we do need a younger fellow or gal with a fire in their belly and a vision of the future.

          I’ve felt for a long time that people at APPLE are a little too fat and happy. They have turned into the way people at Microsoft were 30 years ago when that company thought they owned the world and then dropped the ball.

          APPLE, you need to find insane workers willing to work 24/7 in an old warehouse in Toledo, Ohio or Buffalo, NY on some oddball projects that could advance SIRI or whatever 10 years ahead of the competition. Hell, how about getting a team of 10-20 engineers to design and build a new Power Mac?!!

          1. Exactly, lot here think I am a troll or just a grump, but I want Apple to fly and it seems content to hobble along. I have a significant amount of my retirement invested in Apple stock and bought a lot of it before the bandwagon started and it got expensive- the better Apple does, the better I will do in retirement.

            What I see at Tim Cook’s Apple is the 1927 NY Yankees and they are playing like the 1969 Cubs- in first place for 155 days then collapsing to the then upstart NY Mets.

            Apple has more money than God and all the people they want- they lack for nothing but vision, leadership and someone to kick a little ass. That is Tim Cook’s job, who has shown himself to be Steve Ballmer- a capable operations man without vision.

          2. “younger fellow or gal with a fire in their belly”
            Oh, you mean younger like that young fella Jeff Bezos that’s eating up the world. GOTCHA!

            “need to find insane works willing to work 24/7”
            From…. today’s…. workers?? I doubt you’d find many willing to work 8/4, and that’s ONLY if you pay them way more than it’s worth. 🙂

        2. I believe the iPhone is down to 60 percent of total revenue now as Services increases and other products also grow. I would expect that percentage to decrease more yet over the next few years.

          1. The Q1 statement from Apple shows total revenue as $88,293 (in millions) and the iPhone as $61,576. That comes out to 69.74%
            The Mac was $6,895. That comes out to 7.8%
            Services was $8,471. That comes out to 9.59%.
            The iPad was $5862. That comes out to 6.63%.

  2. My hope is that Craig Federighi can get Siri where it should have been a long time ago vs. it’s competition. The change is a positive move on Tim Cook’s part, but like with the Mac, it is very late in coming and it continues to amaze me that Mr. Cook did not see the problem sooner and do something about it. No one is perfect but Mr. Cook stay engaged. Dare to be great.

      1. Meanwhile the stock market and Apple stock are at all time highs, unemployment (including black and hispanic numbers) are at all time lows, and home prices are reaching all time highs. I guess Jared must be doing some incredible bailing.

  3. SIRI may be #3 out of 3 in a key strategic area for Apple’s future success, but, more importantly, Apple is #1 in Corporate Leadership in lecturing states about who should use which public bathroom. So, Apple has that going for them, which is nice.

  4. Not to defend Siri, but I have both Siri and Alexa in my house, for everything i’ve needed they both work exactly the same in my opinion.

    BUT, i rarely ask for anything outside of adjusting lights, door locks, playing music, and asking for the weather.

  5. Hmmm….Apple is a fantastic hardware company….and iOS and MacOS are both great. But once you stray beyond that I’m not sure stellar software genesis and development is in their DNA perhaps? I’m just thinking about the mis-fires and frustrations around iCloud, Maps, Siri, Ping, etc over the years.

    I’m not bashing Apple just I’ve working in software for over 25 years and there are massive companies that suck at building good software applications. Oracle and SAP certainly come to mind.

    AI and voice response seems like an extremely complex problem and I’m sure the data privacy is a bit of a hamper.

    But that said its easy to throw rocks. Not everything Apple churns out is gonna be “the best” and things like AI could take years to perfect. Or they have some strategic thought process that none of us know about and are “thinking different” towards the future.

  6. Eddy Cue was responsible for overseeing SIRI’s expansion during the period when SIRI’s development was comatose — Gee, what a surprise!

    For god’s sake, APPLE, get rid of Eddy Cue! The guy is a drain on the company. Push him out the door and pay him $10m a year to stay away and you will be money ahead. Think of all the media deals, TV deals, etc. he couldn’t land during those years he was responsible for building APPLE’s media division.

    The guy loves himself too much. He concentrates more on how he looks than his work at APPLE.

    Thank him for his service. Give him a commendation for all his “fine work” and then gently push him out the door along with a hefty paycheck to stay away, or better yet, to go work for Google, Facebook or Microsoft.

  7. No company with over $150B+ in cash after debt should have a product that sits at the bottom of the market and causes the company to become the laughingstock of that particular market. I understand Apple not being at the top in voice assistant tech but being fourth out of four is just a little too much to grasp. Hardly anyone seems to gives a damn about privacy. All they want is a voice assistant that can give them the answers they expect to hear.

    I’m only saying is that because there are so many people who hate Apple for selling upscale products, Apple has to strive to be the best at everything it does because the haters are going to criticize Apple to no end. Does anyone ever hear negative talk about Amazon products? No. They’re cheap enough to be overlooked if they’re not great and if they have some stand-out feature, they’re praised constantly for being the best bang for the buck.

    I don’t give a damn about voice assistants but it seems as though they’re such a big deal to everyone else, especially Wall Street. I can get my answers in other ways and I don’t need a voice assistant to do it. I don’t always expect Apple to be the best at everything, but I don’t want Apple to be considered the worst behind a string of rival companies.

    1. Apple is a seller of premium products. When I pay premium, I expect premium so yes, it should strive to be the best at everything it does otherwise why am I paying premium prices?

      1. Jony and Angela want you to spend a premium to become a brand evangelist, a fanboy drone, advertising Apple products to your friends (or enemies if you are MDN politicos) based on fashion rather than substance. Unlike high priced luxury brands, however, Apple doesn’t hand craft its lifetime warranty goods in tiny quantities using the most exclusive materials. It just charges a 30% or greater price premium for the Apple symbol.

        There was a day when you could see and feel the quality difference between Apple and the rest. Now Apple is just cashing in on its brand, coasting to a predictable place of mediocrity.

  8. Siri could and should be better. Has greatly improved- but has to perceptively beat or at least closely tie the competition, however. Playing the Blame Game on a constant basis regarding any person or persons at Apple is neither healthy nor productive. Whattya get? Not change. Not enlightenment. Heartburn.

  9. On HomePod, I just asked Siri: Play Stainer’s The Crucifixion. Response: I can’t find Stainer’s Crucifixion in either your library or Apple music. I tried it several ways. Useless. So then I went to my Apple music on my iMac. There it was in my uploaded library, and two other versions in Apple music, all titled the same. Siri is good at times, lousy at other times.

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