Apple, where’s the smarter Siri in iOS 12?

“Apple this week had every opportunity to show off new voice skills for Siri, the personal digital assistant, and to prove that it could be competitive with Amazon and Google,” Jefferson Graham writes for USA Today. “Instead, it pretty much took a pass.”

“It did announce some new features, touted as ‘Shortcuts,’ but they’re way more about text than voice and touted as ‘suggestions,’ that can be set up with a pre-arranged set of text categories,” Graham writes. “Siri is the most widely used of the assistants, due to the size of the iPhone universe, which has over 1 billion users, but consistently lags behind Alexa and Google in usability surveys.”

“What Apple did showcase at the WWDC new feature intro was a new app, out in the fall, called ‘Shortcuts,’ which uses ‘Siri suggestions,’ to create automatic actions. For instance, you can choose from pre-set ones like ‘Send ETA,’ or predictive ones to buy morning coffee,” Graham writes. “The feature is based on an app Apple purchased in 2017, Workflow, which it had named best app of the year in 2015.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Siri speaks and understands myriad languages. Get back to us when Google’s or Amazon’s privacy-trampling Siri knockoffs support even half of the languages spoken in these countries where Siri works:

• Australia
• Austria
• Belgium (Dutch, French)
• Brazil
• Canada (English, French)
• Chile
• China (Cantonese, Mandarin)
• Denmark
• Finland (Finnish)
• France
• Germany
• Hong Kong (Cantonese)
• India (English)
• Ireland (English)
• Israel (Hebrew)
• Italy
• Japan
• Malaysia (Malay)
• Mexico
• Netherlands
• New Zealand
• Norway
• Republic of Korea
• Russia
• Saudi Arabia (Arabic)
• Singapore (English)
• South Africa (English)
• Spain
• Sweden
• Switzerland (French, German, Italian)
• Taiwan (Mandarin)
• Thailand
• Turkey
• United Arab Emirates (Arabic)
• UK
• USA (English, Spanish)

That said, Apple should allow users to choose whether to cede some degree(s) of privacy in exchange for for more fully-featured versions of Siri, Photos, etc.

20 Comments

  1. Why is the definition of “smart” somehow “answers stupid random questions that nobody ever asks” and “really keeps my Amazon shopping list up to date”……. ridiculous. MDN take is spot on.

    1. Well said. In the early days of the App Store, people teased about the number of fart apps. I think a great number of Alexa “skills” are the Amazon equivalent.

  2. Siri is as dumb as a rock in English.

    I have a few concert albums that are also movies in my iTunes library and when I ask Siri to play them in the car it answers that it cannot play videos in the car.

    Someone in Cupertino is just mailing it in.

    1. I am pleased that someone took the time to teach Siri a few jokes recently. You can ask:

      “Tell Me A Joke”
      or
      “Knock Knock”

      I’m wondering if they snuck in some other PlainText functionality as well. Thank you, whoever!

  3. Smart, to me, is being consistent and able to “work” with all Apple device. Case: On iPhone: Hey Siri, … How’s my Apple Watch battery? Siri: You can find out all about Apple Watch on Apple’s website.

    Why? Why can’t Siri tell me, on my iPhone, how my Watch battery is? Siri on iPhone is the only thing, right now, that /I/ have, that listens for “Hey Siri,” all the time. Also, when asking Siri to read notifications—and I get a lot of them—If something goes wrong, like her not hearing one of the many, worn out, “continue” commands, she starts way back at the beginning, not where we left off. How can Apple call this assistant “smart,” or “user friendly?” No, it isn’t either of those.

    >

    1. Why does everyone think a new technology should work as well as Robbie the Robot (who had a midget inside)?

      This stuff (no matter how long it’s been on the market) is in its infancy.

      I’ve used Alexa and Google Home (at demos) and neither is as good as many claim them to be, especially in recognizing the user’s voice in a loud environment.

      1. Just to set the record straight Robby did not have a “midget” inside. The operator was not tall but certainly not a midget. R2D2 used dwarf Kenny Baker inside and Huey, Dewey and Louie robots in SILENT RUNNING were ingenuously run by paraplegics. Shot statured but not a midget Bob May was inside LOST IN SPACE’S B9 “Robot”. A really tall guy who was an usher at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater was inside Gort in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

        Friends of mine built Robby’s for sale way back when (and still do) and I once transported one and helped the operator get inside. We were trying to impress someone – and succeeded. There is nothing like seeing Robby walking around the corner unexpectedly!

  4. The „shortcuts” gimmick is Apple’s half-assed way of dancing around the fact that Siri sucks and won’t be getting better. If only I could teach Siri very specific commands that I knew would work, but Siri isn’t big on learning.

  5. Another example: I’m driving down the expressway towards,the airport to make a pickup. I ask Siri for ETA of the flight. She responds with “Read these webpages.” Why doesn’t she know that I am driving and can’t look at websites? And why can’t the flight info for a major airline be accessed?

    At home, we have been able to seemlessly integrate Alexa with Hue, Wemo, Ooma, Fire TV, Pandora, XM Radio, OurGroceries, and other useful functions.

    1. I’ll attempt to answer based on the presentation Apple did.

      Right now Siri is standalone, it does not have access to apps, does not transmit full audio to some open cloud to be parsed and reacted to, it runs resident only on the device being interacted with.

      Apple says due to privacy concerns. Based on their history I’ll believe them on this point until proven wrong.

      Now during the developers conference, they said they are opening up Siri to ‘read’ and interact with commands integrated into the apps through some new interface in iOS 12.

      So using your point of give me the ETA of a flight, if the American Airlines app is installed Siri would now have a way to interact with the app to provide the information.

      In addition to opening this new method for app developers to integrate with Siri, they offered two new ‘manual’ methods suggestions and shortcuts, suggestions seemed to be a stopgap for apps that haven’t been updated to use the new Siri integration’s and shortcuts seems to be a way to chain commands together to accomplish multiple activities/look-ups customized to how you want to use it.

      So it appears that, without exposing user privacy, they are trying to extend Siri capabilities to what most people use the other assistants for, plus give it a little automation.

      That’s my defense for Siri based on the vaporware promises they made during the developers conference.

      My offense is, based on the last ‘promises’ this will all be delivered right before the next conference, OR it will come out with the Apple wireless charging device, which ever comes last.

      If this is there solution why wasn’t it done YEARS ago right after Siri was released? What the hell have they been doing all this time?

      1. You think the SRI product Apple purchased and released with the iPhone 4s is capable of meeting today’s standards? Think about it. (Btw… this is inside information).

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