Siri Regret

It pains me to say it, but I’ve all but given up on Siri. It seemed so promising when Scott Forstall announced it on stage – an intelligent assistant who understood natural language like nothing else. Apple’s pervasive ad campaign only reinforced Siri’s status as the iPhone 4S’s marquee feature.

Sadly, almost none of the promises came true. Siri is not particularly intelligent, nor is it useful on a daily basis. Instead of being a leap ahead of competing voice technology, it fails in all the same areas. Not only does the service drop frequently, but Siri doesn’t seem to be learning from my queries at all.

Siri struggles to understand all but my most basic commands. It’s not just a dialect either – I’m from the Midwest, so my accent is about as bland as they come. I’m not sure if i’m mumbling into the mic or if Siri is just incompetent, but it fails spectacularly more often than not. Yesterday I asked Siri to “play the Beatles.” Easy, right? I have one album titled “The Beatles (White Album)”, which is obviously by an artist called The Beatles. The most well-known group of all time. A personal favorite of Steve Jobs. But Siri couldn’t do it. After two “I didn’t quite get that” replies, she came back with “Ok, I give up.” How helpful.

And that’s in a quiet environment. During the Super Bowl last weekend, some friends and I wondered if a place kicker had ever been named Super Bowl MVP. Rather than Google the answer, I thought to try Siri’s powers. It picked up the first few words, but everyone else’s background conversation soon confounded my iPhone. It compiled the nonstop banter for over two minutes, long after my own voice had stopped, and offered to search for:

“Is a kicker ever been Superboy series like wrong with you I’m sorry Siri Ukraine chaos for you everyone keeps talking audio and he’s still waiting in the failures everybody is the kicker ever been sublimely Brazil”


Siri can pull off some amazing feats, such as when it correctly gave me the run time of Moneyball last Friday, along with the distance light travels in that time. The same night, it deftly compared the ages of Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves (Pitt, at 48, is a year older.) Yet it consistently fails to call my girlfriend. Ask Siri to “Call Liz”, and it habitually confuses Liz with another, usually unrelated word. There is only one Liz in my address book. Say “Call my girlfriend’s cell phone”, and Siri points out that “There is no mobile number listed for Liz Langhoff.” I’ve listed her number as an iPhone in Contacts, since I’d like to use iMessage and FaceTime. But Siri apparently doesn’t know that iPhones are cell phones too. Natural, conversational language is useless. Wasn’t that the whole point of Siri?

Image from Electricpig

One Comment on “Siri Regret”

  1. […] is ok, but it gets a lot wrong. Keep in mind that Siri is clearly a work in progress, and I’d expect to see it get better […]

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