Every year or two I like to do a blog post about Siri and seeing this got me started on a new post, pasted below.
I use Siri quite a bit and while it can be frustrating at times I generally find it useful and enjoyable. And, to be honest, I’m sometimes really amazed at just how well it actually works! The me of 15 years ago that was goofing off with the Mac’s “speakable items” feature would be rightfully impressed with the fact that in 2021 I can ask my touch screen tablet computer (we take for granted now the power that is now embedded in this thin, fan-less sheet of glass) things like:
- What is the current distance to Jupiter?
- Can I view Jupiter at 8pm? (This is astounding. Siri presents results from Wolfram Alpha that not only let me know that yes, I can view Jupiter from my location at that time, but where it will be in the night sky with a map and coordinates.)
- When did the Perseverance Rover begin operating on Mars?
- Who discovered Iodine?
- How many calories or grams of sugar are in an apple
- Who directed National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?
- Where’s my dad?
- What’s the phone number for Thee Abbey Kitchen? (a local restaurant)
- Turn on my porch light
- Using my iPad on my porch: “Call Scoops” will result in a phone call from my phone to a local ice cream/coffee shop.
- I need a recipe for vegan baked oatmeal
And obviously, that’s just a tiny sampling of what’s possible. These are things or very similar to things I’ve requested of Siri in the past few months. I’ve found Siri’s ability to tap into specific or general science knowledge particularly fun and useful. Usually presenting a card of information from Wikipedia or Wolfram Alpha to get me started with an option to tap for more information.
The most recent positive change in my use is, simply, the improvements to the last two voices that were added a few months ago. So much better!
I am noticing a few regressions though! For starters, Apple no longer provides detailed documentation for what Siri can do. In the past we could ask “What can Siri do” or something like that and get a long, detailed list on a per app basis. Now this redirects to a web page at Apple that doesn’t provide much detail.
This may be a bug in iOS 15 but on my iPhone and iPad a request such as “Show me my dog photos” or any variation related to that just switches to Photos. No search is done. Similar requests such as “Show me email from Adam” results in “Sorry, I can’t help with that”. “Send an email to Adam” also results in “Sorry, I can’t help with that.” These sorts of things worked before so I’m thinking they are bugs.
A few things I’d like to see added:
- Request searches based on tags for Files, Notes, Reminders
- Generally, make Files searchable by Siri in iOS
- Any kind of search for local/iCloud data in Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts. If I can search it in Spotlight I’d like to be able to get the same results via “Hey Siri”.
- Of particular use would be a Siri contact search that would bring up the nifty new informational card that can currently be accessed via Spotlight. This does work now but opens up the full contacts app.