Giving Up on Siri

Jim Dalrymple:

Siri has done what no person could for 30 years: Make me stop using an Apple product.

I am giving up on my 8 HomePods/minis out of the sheer frustration of trying to use Siri.

I’ve been in tech for 30 years and this is one of the worst technologies ever and only getting worse

Via Michael Tsai, who has collected recent quotes from other critics.

You could go back one, five, or ten years and find people complaining about pretty much the same problems. The ways it fails me today are pretty much the same as the way it has failed for me for years, and there is no excuse: I speak English with a mild Canadian accent, I do not have a stutter or any other disability, and I am using the latest version of iOS on the newest-model iPhone. Of course, that is not what Siri is tripped-up by — it transcribes me perfectly most of the time. But it delivers utter nonsense.

Sometimes, after I ask Siri to reply to a message, it will ask which contact details to use instead of just sending the message to the phone number or email address from which it came. Just now, I asked Siri how much three tablespoons of butter weighs, and it responded in litres. This is basic shit.

A voice interface is such a difficult interaction model to get right because there is no predictable boundary. A user must trust the computer to interpret and execute each command accurately and, if it fails them once, why would they attempt to do the same thing in the future? They know it does not work.

Sean Sperte, in response to a joke:

This is why Siri’s ineptitude is a branding problem for Apple more than anything else. (I believe it’s also the reason HomePod isn’t a bigger hit.)

To interpolate one of the few good moments from a bad show, Apple has a P.R. problem because it has an actual problem in Siri.

John Gruber:

First impressions really matter, but in Siri’s case, it’s over a decade of lived experience. If I were at Apple and believed the company finally had a good voice assistant experience, I’d push for a new brand.

I would not be surprised if Apple used a complete rearchitecting of Siri to change its name.

Something I cannot help but wonder is whether Siri would still be so bad if users could pick something else. That goes for any platform and any product, by the way — what if you could pick Google’s assistant on an Amazon device, or Siri on a Google device? I am not suggesting this is how it ought to be. But what if these voice assistants actually had to compete with each other directly instead of in the context of the products in which they are sold? Would that inspire more rapid development, higher quality, and more confidence from users?

Instead, here we are: Apple may as well give up on Siri as it is currently envisioned. It seems many users do not really trust it. I have given up on it for anything more complicated than setting a timer.