Hey Siri, what happened? After a decade as Apple’s assistant, Siri still hasn’t figured out the job

Siri launched a decade ago with great promise, but it fell behind competitors including Google Assistant and Alexa, likely due to management dysfunction, Apple’s walled garden, and more.

The article captures why I barely use Siri–other that specif, limited tasks, you don’t know whether it’s going to work or not, and after two or three times, it’s just easier to do things using the touchscreen.

I like the Verge’s companion article to this one:

Btw Mitch, you can now name and keep multiple timers via Siri on the Watch. :wink:


The slow progress with Siri really hampers it being used by an average person. Even I, only resort to Siri to run timers, do calculations and conversions. Sometimes, I have to repeat it or check if the command is running. Asking it to play a specific song from an artist is frustrating. I know it can do more, but it takes the same time as to interact with your device to do what is needed than wait for Siri to figure it out.

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I tried getting siri to skip ahead in a podcast the other day. First I had to remember the precise command. Then I figured oh the heck with it, I’ll just say what I THINK the command is, and hopefully that will be right.

It was the right command, but Siri took about 15 seconds to process the request to skip ahead 15 seconds.

I can do it on the AirPods nearly instantaneously.

Still, I think skipping ahead with Siri will be useful on occasions when I need to skip ahead while I’m bent over picking up dog poop. Which will be useful more often than you would think.

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The slowness of Siri is one it’s biggest flaws. It should not take 5 seconds to understand “Hey Siri, Call Steve”. It should be instantaneous!

My iPhone 12 Pro is faster than many computers, but still, it takes around 5 seconds to understand and perform that simple phrase. Steve is in my address book, it’s a command that is simple and doesn’t require internet, and it should just work within a millisecond. Fail.

I am very disappointed at Apple for not making Siri better and faster. :frowning:

It’s possible the new on-device processing could change this going forward.
Earlier, they always had to run the processing in the cloud, meaning they had to have access to all sorts of stuff to guess what you actually said, while now Siri has access to all your data when it tries to map voice to text.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

My favorite line from Siri is “you need to unlock your iPhone first”. Usually received immediately after doing something else.

Siri reads a text message over my headset: “Friend A asks: 'Are we going to Barnes & Noble today? I heard they’re closing at 6:00.”
I reply via Siri, using my headset. Siri sends the message.
Immediately after, using the same headset: “Hey Siri, call Barnes & Noble.”
“You need to unlock your iPhone first.”

It was apparently happy to let me reply to personal messages sent to the phone without having to authenticate me, but making a phone call? That’s over the line, somehow. :smiley:

“You need to unlock your iPhone first” is a top Siri annoyance. If my hands were free, I would not be using Siri.

Siri also seems to be having new trouble reading names aloud in Apple Maps. Apple and other GPS apps have always choked on names based on Spanish or American Indian words, but now the problem is spreading to ALL names. Like, yesterday afternoon it gave a bizarre, unrecognizable, and unexplainable pronunciation for “West Bradley Avenue,” which should be very easy to pronounce.

And there is no excuse for Siri mispronouncing Spanish and American Indian name. Both are common in the US, and Spanish is the fourth most common language in the world, with 534 million speakers.


I can confirm the tasks mentioned in this thread are faster on a 13. I didn’t find them to be slow on the 12, but I recognize the role that Internet quality plays as well as the occasional service degradations and unavailabilities. It also helps to usually be doing voice commands in situations where I’ve nothing better to do than wait for the response, like being in traffic. :slight_smile:


I’ve started to use Siri more with the my new iPhone 13. I really notice a difference with speed that the on device processing must be helping. My Home Screen is almost all widgets now and I mostly use Siri to open apps.

I realize I’ve been unfair to Siri here. There is one important thing it is great at and that I do quite frequently—dictation.

About half the writing I do nowadays is on the iPhone or iPad, and half of that is dictated. It’s remarkable—another example of technology that I would have considered magic in the 80s, and that I now take for granted.

The Siri of 9.6.1 was charming- very friendly and funny. This Siri is kind of a drag.

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cries in norwenglish


You are quite funny!

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Thank you :slight_smile: 20 chars…

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And privacy - which, IMO, is much more of a factor than “Apple’s walled garden”.

While “Apple’s love of user privacy is far from absolute” it is definitely a factor. I believe Apple would love to do everything on device but despite the advantage of having superior chips they cannot match their competition.

And since privacy is a key part of their marketing I don’t think this will change, and Siri will continue to lose ground. :cry:

I don’t have a problem with Siri. Sometimes she won’t understand me, but does understand my girlfriend. This is becoming less common, and I think she’s learning our voices.

I also tried a Southern English colloquialism the other day, it previously didn’t work, but does now, “Hey Siri, cut the lights on.”

If I had a wish, it would be chaining commands, “Hey Siri, out of office and turn on the bedroom lights and turn off the sound machine.”
I haven’t actually tried that lately, but assume it still doesn’t work. That’s the only thing I saw that josh.ai does better than Siri.


Me too. I recently switched from Google Assistant to Siri for home automation and really miss the ability to issue up to three commands at a time. IMO that should be table stakes for any digital assistant.

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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.