A mess named "Siri"

I’ve been beating this drum for a while. I’m not sure what I’m expecting by doing such. But I remain amazed that Siri performs so poorly. In nearly every context there are missteps, unhelpful results or outright failures. My own experience is that Siri is nearing complete unreliability when using AirPods.

I came across this article in The Verge which helped explain what I’m talking about: Siri’s 10-year anniversary is a reminder of Apple’s wasted head start - The Verge

I guess at this point, Apple needs to decide if Siri is something a team, any team really, at Apple wants to work on and improve. For me it’s such a shame Siri has fallen into such disrepair. Oh well. Maybe with the new iOS, iPadOS and Apple Watch OS releases coming soon, things will be better.


I wouldn’t we holding my breath. Siri is so bad, I think it’s beyond repair. It’s in Cortana territory.

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Though I know this isn’t as “strategic” as a new computing platform like “spatial computing,” I would have much preferred a giant leap forward with Siri than a mixed-reality headset.


What drives me craziest is when it fails on the simplest commands. I thought they had “on device” siri now, but almost half the time when I say “Hi Siri, volume 50%” it will respond “something went wrong”. What the heck is that? Can there be a simpler, tailored for on device response?


I have given up on Siri ever improving but I still need to rely on it for my home commands

What’s even worse than Siri is homekit. Don’t even get me started on homekit.

. . . Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are essentially what are known as command-and-control systems. These can understand a finite list of questions and requests like “What’s the weather in New York City?” or “Turn on the bedroom lights.” If a user asks the virtual assistant to do something that is not in its code, the bot simply says it can’t help. . . .

  • New York Times, March 15, 2023

How Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant, lost the AI Race. (Use Reader Mode)

Siri fails to control my lights but everything works instantly if I use the Home app. It says “just a sec” if I ask “what time is it?”. If I ask it anything about Apple it responds “I think apple.com should be able to help you with that”. I’m done with HomeKit, Music, and anything else that depends on Siri for voice control.

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It will be interesting to see if Google can make a big step in voice control once they incorporate Bard. Of course, this would mean allowing a Google appliance into my house, which I’ve been unwilling to do.

I also saw that Home Assistant is making a big push into voice (their “year of the voice”). Part of it is incorporation of ChatGPT. It seems odd to think a small company can make progress where behemoths have not, but stranger things have happened.

I wouldn’t expect to see any major changes to the Google Assistant any time soon. I’ve been using it for several years with my Google Workspace account. It’s similar to Siri and has many of the features Apple is planning to bring to Siri later this year such as multiple timers and follow up questions.

For example if you choose this option GA will listen for around 8 seconds after answering a question. So you could ask “what’s on my schedule for tomorrow?”, “is it supposed to rain”, “remind me to get gas”.

If you’ve never used google services before you might want to log in and go into “Manager your account”. Once there you can fine tune your settings. If you are interested in Google AI you might find the following interesting.

On the one hand I don’t think I’ve seen much improvement or innovation of Siri over the past 5ish years. Though I do suspect that small, gradual improvements have been made. That said I use Siri several times a day with very good results. Overall I’d say that my satisfaction with Siri the voice assistant is pretty high just evaluating the successful responses I have. My primary methods of interaction are via original HomePods and AirPods Pro. Devices being used: HomePods, iPhone and iPad (with or without AirPods Pro)

So, grading it in terms of:

  1. Innovation, improvement, new features: D
  2. Successful responses based on current feature set: A-

What I use on a regular or semi-regular basis with generally very good results:

  1. HomeKit: Checking temperature of various locations with sensors, controlling lights and appliances. Almost always successful.
  2. Open/run a shortcut
  3. Open an app
  4. Open web pages
  5. Make a new reminder
  6. Make a new event
  7. “Make a new note” followed by my dictation of text. Really nice to start a note when I’m out walking and have a thought, observation, etc.
  8. Get the weather - this has gotten worse not because of Siri but because Apple’s weather app seems to be completely borked in terms of the forecast and eve current conditions. Before dark sky integration this was MUCH better
  9. Checking location of a family member
    10: Initiating a phone call to a local business or someone in my contacts
  10. Creating, dictating and sending a message
  11. Play the latest news from my NPR station or play the latest episode of “Podcast name”
  12. Play (music group name) which will play a random rotation of songs from that group
  13. Maps/businesses: What time does “business name” open
  14. Maps/businesses: How far is it to “business name” in “town name”
  15. Maps/businesses: Getting restaurant info
  16. Quick facts: How many calories in a serving of “food item”, what time is sunrise, what’s the current phase of the moon
    18: I usually use Reeder for news but if I want to do a quick news check on a specific topic Siri will yield articles from Apple News that’s presented in nice, clickable thumbnails: "What’s the news about “current event”

Most notable failures:

  1. Initiating a search of my own photos. I seem to remember this working before but no longer. “Show me my photos of dogs”, “Show me pictures of mom”, etc, all fail.
  2. Multiple follow-ups, conversational interactions (not really a feature in the first place).
  3. This one seems bizarre: Playing anything on the AppleTV app doesn’t seem to work. It’s as though Siri is not connected to that app at all.

Overall, I’m finding Siri continues to be an excellent way to quickly interact or initiate actions on the iPhone or iPad. But I’ve generally been satisfied with Siri for the past 4-5 years. Sure, I’d like to see new capabilities added but in my use-case the base feature set has been fairly reliable and consistent.

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I am glad Siri works for you. There are a lot of us that wouldn’t use reliable and consistent to describe “her” performance.

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Siri has started working better for me in the last fortnight. It was broken completely on my homepods for months, and I couldn’t even get it to play music. A couple weeks ago it suddenly started working so I can finally listen to music again with out it telling me “there was a problem!”.

My bet is that Google will integrate Bard into their Assistant soon and that will leave Apple and Microsoft fighting for the remaining scraps in the AI world.

This is not up to the standards I expect from Apple, as it was a product they touted as the future not that long ago. If they’re not careful, Google will dominate the AI world and we’ll be left with the awful experience of Siri.