Siri - Whats Up?

With the many perspectives on how Apple is doing I don’t find much discussion of Siri.

Maybe my experiences with this are unique but I find Siri’s performance to be frustrating and often laughable.

I’m inclined to see the lack of emphasis on how Siri does and doesn’t work to be an acceptance of what is disappointing performance.

I’m curious about what others think.


Are you referring to the dictation capabilities of Siri, or the information-fetching capabilities? Or both? Personally I find the former to be good, the latter not so much.

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Same; I’m fairly happy with it. I’d like for answers to become more succinct and natural-sounding, but the content is there and Siri is catching up to Google in its ability to chain together a conversation with context—although it could do better, e.g., if you ask “who’s George Washington” and then “when did he die” you’ll get the answer, but “who was president after him” returns web results.

I assume the people who hate it are trying to use it to do different things than I am or refuse to change how they’re asking it things to get answers. Or have unusual accents. (One good recent change is the work to make it better with South Asian languages and accents.)

Yes, I should clarify the things it gets wrong aren’t things Google is amazing at either. It’s just where voice is at.

I interact with Siri the most on the Watch. I never have a problem with it on the phone. On the Watch, however… especially trying to get Siri to trigger with Raise to Speak… ugh.

The worst thing about Siri fails is that they make me feel like such a tool. I end up swinging my wrist around and repeating commands in increasing amounts of anger as I try to get the thing to work.

The real problem, I think, is that Siri-based tasks save time and help you maintain focus if you only do them once, but they often waste time and completely distract you if you have to repeat yourself or try harder.

Of course, when it does work, I feel like a genius. :sweat_smile:

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Siri on IOS is good for on device operations, Open Podcast, Remind me to . . ., Add milk to my Grocery List, Tell Sondra I’m running late, etc. But I find Siri on HomePod to be a less useful cousin.

Asking Siri for information results in “I found this on the web” so often I don’t even try anymore when I’m in the car. Fortunately Shortcuts now allow me to use Siri to open Google Assistant which rarely fails to accomplish the task.

My main frustration is trying to use Siri with an app called “Grocery” and asking to add items to a grocery list. It seems to have changed how it responds. When I ask it to add an item to “the grocery list” I’m informed that there is no such app on my phone and I need to download it. If I call for it to add an item to the “grocery list app” it then can’t understand the list I specify. It locks on to “PJ” in lieu of “TJ” and no matter how many interations of my stating “TJ” it keeps defaulting to “PJ”. Agree that when it work it is good. When it doesn’t it can be entertaining but mainly it is frustrating. It doesn’t “just work” and Apple seems to be ok with this state of things.

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Siri is okay as a dictation service, but for almost everything else I find it useless. It would be of most use to me when driving but the simplest things seem to be beyond its capabilities: “Siri open music and go to my albums” stumps it.

I’m sure that it works well for some things, but honestly for a voice assistant, I want it to just work and just work nearly 100% of the time, or it’s of no real use to me. That’s me though; lots of other people seem to love it.


Tonight I was on my AppleTV home screen.

At the top row I could see the Netflix icon.

In the “shelf” above Netflix I could see the image for Forensic Files, which I have been watching a lot of lately.¹

I picked up the Siri remote, pressed the Siri button and said “Play Forensic Files on Netflix.”

I watched the transcript on-screen which was perfect.

Then the Apple TV launched Amazon Prime Video.

I pressed the home button and went back to the start screen.

“In Netflix, play Forensic Files.”

Again, the transcript was perfect.

This time, the Apple TV app launched, offering to play the first episode of Forensic Files… in Amazon Prime Video.

And that’s why people speak poorly of Siri.

(Well, that’s one reason.)

¹ Don’t judge me.


I mostly agree, except that I thought there were hooks in apps now that let Siri control them, or perform specific actions? Siri can, for example, set a timer for a given duration, which is effectively launching the Timer app, setting the duration, and then starting the timer. I don’t see that as fundamentally different than launching the Music app, setting the view to album, and setting a filter to a given artist.

As a (sometime) developer, I understand and appreciate Siri’s technical limitations. The problem is that Siri isn’t designed for my inner developer; it’s been marketed as a natural language voice assistant. In dealing with it in that context, any failing or limitation that seems arbitrary is going to stand out to me as a jarring failure.

Siri is brilliantly designed and works well within its limitations, but it’s, at least implicitly, marketed as an AI based voice assistant and in that role the cultural expectation is that it will understand what I reasonably want and be able to do it.

The expectations for Siri are high and it does a not-terrible job of meeting them, but in the context of what it’s being presented as, that’s not nearly good enough so the impression is negative.

In contrast, my car also has a voice interface for its built in functions. It’s very, very basic: I press a button (same one as for Siri, but a shorter press) and I’m presented with one or two word options displayed on the screen and voice prompt that tells me what it’s expecting. After using the system a few times for common tasks, you don’t even have to glance at the screen. It’s basic, but it Just Works. Every time.

I feel good about using the car’s system and apprehensive about having to “well, let’s try Siri on the off chance that it can do what I’m looking for right now”.

TL;DR: Discovering the limitations of an open-ended system can be fun in a game, but not so much in a voice assistant.

BUT: Those are my experiences, feelings, and thoughts. I’m absolutely not trying to convince you that Siri is bad for you. If it works well for you then I’m genuinely happy for you and it gives me hope that someday it’ll live up to my expectations too.

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This is where we differ in our opinions and what shapes our respective views of Siri. I learned the Siri interface when I was learning to communicate verbally as a child and Siri has been presented to me in the context of that interface. My intuitive expectation is that it can work within that paradigm. It cannot, and therefore it disappoints (me) and I have a negative impression that’s reinforced each time it fails to live up to that expectation.

A major difference between a GUI and something like Siri is that a GUI makes its limitations explicitly known as you use it, whereas with Siri you seem to have to have knowledge of how it does things in order to understand how to use it. For something that’s presented as a voice activated assistant, I think that’s unreasonable requirement, especially for laypersons.

Again, this isn’t about whether Siri is objectively good or not; it’s about my impression of Siri as I use it and from my point of view that’s not a good impression. You have a completely different set of expectations and therefore a different impression. Neither of us is right or wrong and neither of us is likely to sway the other to seeing Siri in any way other than how we already do.

“Siri, get Wolfie a beer” also failed, but at least I tried :slight_smile:

Yes @framus I agree. I think Siri is woeful when compared with Alexa. When asking for information Alexa is extremely good, finding and reading out a reply which in most cases fits the question.

Siri, by comparison, just returns “I found this on the web” and presents a list of URL’s which I then have to figure out which is any good, click and do the reading myself.

I really can’t understand why people think Siri is so good. I have virtually given up using him!

I tried to explain all of this to my grandmother, she doesn’t buy it, thinks Siri is not for her, has given up trying to use it. Of course she is not exactly a “Power User”, she’s just an Apple customer.

You hit the nail on the head right there. My innate, intuitive, human expectation for something that I interact with as I do with other humans is for it to have capabilities similar to humans. That expectation is a product of (at least) upbringing, experience, and culture. Anything substantially and consistently less is necessarily disappointing (to me) at some level. I believe this is not uncommon and probably at the root of much of the dissatisfaction that some people have with Siri.

I think that I see your point of view too, and I think that it leads to a much happier Siri experience.

t puzzles me that there is little to no attention paid to how inconsistently this tool performs by the various apple related podcasters and commentators. I can’t remember when, if ever, the MPU podcast has discussed this. “Six Colors” has an excellent report card on various aspects of the Apple ecosystem but Siri gets little attention. Siri may have entered a development backwater similar to the situation that Apple TV hardware seems to be in

I described one that works very, very well for me :slight_smile:

I prefer the term minion.

(Discourse is getting testy that we’re going back and forth on this. I shall defer the last word to you if you want it)

We recently got an Echo dot, and I’m stunned how much better Alexa is at dealing with requests than Siri. Alexa is almost good enough to use and think it will usually work. Siri is a dim bulb most of the time.

I hope all the Siri engineers have good access to Alexa and Google speech devices so they get a fire lit under them.

Sadly, I have to agree with you. Last night my HomePod responded with “Here’s what I found for you”. Apparently it now thinks it has a display. It’s a great sounding speaker, but I use my Google Mini’s 90% of the time.