Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Siri Regressions and Bugs in iOS 15

Apple:

Starting with the customer release of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8 this fall, some SiriKit intent domains will be deprecated and will no longer be supported in all new and existing OS releases. If a user makes a request that leverages one of these APIs after it’s been removed, Siri will reply that it can’t support the request.

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Affected Siri domains include ride booking, configuration of vehicles via Siri over CarPlay, and third-party Photo Search. Many of these SiriKit intents were introduced when third-party Siri support was first added to the system back in iOS 10. Apple didn’t provide a reason for their abrupt removal.

Since the initial implementation of SiriKit, Apple has integrated Shortcuts workflows into iOS and these can be invoked via Siri using keywords. However, interactions with the native SiriKit intents was always more sophisticated and supported a much wider range of natural language as input.

SiriKit also works using common language patterns and keywords if you have installed a supported app, while Shortcuts requires manual configuration.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Several Siri commands that provide details on phone calls, voicemails, and sending emails no longer appear to be working. The following commands used to be functional, but have recently been removed.

  • Do I have any voicemails?

  • Play my voicemail messages

  • Check my call history

  • Check my recent calls

  • Who called me?

  • Send an email

  • Send an email to [person]

As Clover reports, these omissions were first documented by users on the AppleVis forums who support disabled people who use iPhones. This may be a bug — the behaviour is also present in iOS 14.8 — but it amounts to a regression until it is fixed.

Allow me a brief tangent: I found iOS 15’s beta cycle to be, all things considered, pretty stable. Aside from a redesign of Safari, seemingly in real-time, it was otherwise a minimally-disruptive experience — but I am not a heavy Shortcuts user.

Federico Viticci:

Unfortunately, the Shortcuts experience in iOS and iPadOS 15 is hindered by a variety of severe UI and performance bugs that have made this update the least stable and reliable one in recent memory. I believe Apple is aware of these bugs and is actively working on fixing them, but that doesn’t change the core problem: the Shortcuts app shipping with iOS and iPadOS 15.0 is buggy, crashes often, and gets in the way of power users with SwiftUI-related issues that prevent interactions with the editor.

As my professional and personal technology experiences increasingly revolve around the software-as-a-service model, I have recently been thinking a lot about the lack of stability as a priority. We are on the receiving end of a firehose of changes, redesigns, new features, and reimplementations of existing products. Yet the threshold for problems that will prevent a product from being shipped seems to be getting stricter.

What Viticci describes is an application that Apple shipped — in a production release of its most popular operating system — in an entirely unusable state. It is not a solitary case, nor is Apple the only software vendor to rush something out the door. But stuff like these Shortcuts problems — some of which are UIKit problems — and Siri regressions are profoundly disruptive to frequent users. And because they offer more niche functionality — compared to, say, Messages or Mail — it is almost worse: the people who are heavy users of Shortcuts or Siri need these specific functions to work well.

I know: issues like these get raised pretty much every year; this is a x.0 release; there are bigger problems to worry about. I know. I hope there is a day when stability and quality will be incentivized to the same degree as new features, but I cannot see that happening. At the very least, however, apps should not ship in a broken state, and deprecations should be clearly communicated to users as well as developers. Am I asking too much for companies to stand behind the products they ship?