Talking speakers are a thing, a growing technological trend that has everyone talking; tech pundits, market analysts, and a few million owners of Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home talking speakers. What about Apple?
Alexa is Amazon’s Siri. Assistant is the name given to Google’s so-called intelligent assistant. Both have features Apple’s Siri does not. It doesn’t matter. All three are stupid as a fencepost and don’t do enough to make anyone worry about Apple’s future. Siri does not need to be very smart.
Lights. Speaker. Action.
In case you worried whether or not Apple’s HomePod, the music and sound centric talking speaker from Cupertino, CA, would be a hit– fear not. HomePod is sold out. At least, it’s sold out online and you’ll have to wait a few days for delivery. The Apple Store might have a few to sell but it’s likely they’ll be gone soon, too.
HomePod sounds great but you won’t be able to know that for sure unless, 1) you just trust the reviews of Apple’s trusted review crew, buy and wait, or, 2) you buy and try without trying it in the Apple Store first because if ever there was a place you do not want to try to listen to a high quality speaker, it’s in a giant room where 150 people are talking at the same time.
Siri works with HomePod but even this Siri is dumbed down a bit, and all the commands you might want Siri to act upon won’t work as they do with iPhone or iPad. That’s today. Siri has been dumber than rivals for awhile and that won’t change too soon. Siri is just the dumbest of the talking speaker voices.
It does not matter because Siri does not need to be very smart. What is important is that Siri get better over time and become more useful with each device so we can integrate the little assistant that could into our daily lives. HomePod will help. For whatever reason, Siri does not handle multiple named timers in HomePod. That is a must have because Siri can hear us when we ask questions, and one of the most handy is the timer.
Siri doesn’t have an alternative activation phrase. It’s ‘Hey Siri…’ or the highway. Why not give us the option to name Siri whatever we want? Apple has SiriKit and HomeKit but all those kids haven’t stopped Amazon’s Echo and Alexa from driving the talking speaker market forward. Siri does a good job with dictation and I find myself using it more– text messages, articles and notes, even Apple TV search.
The problem with all these talking speakers is that they don’t understand context very well, often they misinterpret what we say or want, and there just are not enough actions they can fulfill that make them worth using more. They’re all interesting, but too much of the list of what each can do is filled with fluff the average iPhone or Android smartphone or talking speaker owner really needs to have done. Understanding context is what humans do better than computers and Alexa, Assistant, and Siri are not even at toddler stage when it comes to context.
For now, for the introduction of HomePod, Siri doesn’t need to be very smart. Siri just needs to keep getting better with every new release of iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, speakerOS, airpodOS, and so on. Keep surprising me with new functionality, Siri, and I promise to use you more.