Remember when Apple co-founder and then CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone? What was iPhone? “So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device.” Yeah, we got it.
Jobs pointed out that iPhone was based on Mac OS X, the macOS of 2007. Since then Apple customers have been treated to iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and now audioOS. Let’s assume that they’re all based somehow or another on the original Mac OS X. Similar. But not the same. Just like Siri.
To be fair with any analysis of Siri and what it does and does not do, Siri has improved over the years. Dictation is wonderful, which means Siri understands human voices better than ever. Where Siri is weaker is in actions and search. Amazon’s Echo with Alexa does more. Google’s stupidly named Assistant is smarter. What Siri has going for it is a billion Apple Macs, iPhones, iPads, Watches, Apple TVs, and HomePods.
Good, right? Except that Siri is different on each device. What you ask on HomePod won’t get the same response as the same query on iPhone. That’s just wrong. By necessity, Siri’s actions and tasks differ from one device to another. Queries should not. Siri has a severe personality disorder.
Worse, Siri cannot recognize different voices and needs multiuser support. Siri sometimes knows who I am on my iPhone and iPad, possibly on the Mac, but can Siri tell voices apart on HomePod or Apple TV? No. And Siri isn’t all that good on iPhone or iPad. I attended a meeting last week and the speaker said the word “seriously” very slowly. About a dozen iPhones and iPad went da ding at the same time (a reason why disk jockeys and TV hosts try to avoid the name “Alexa.”
Siri needs multiuser support and needs to know who is talking; and with an option to ignore everyone else except the assigned voice.
If I had to rank Siri on each Apple device I would start at iPhone on top, followed closely by iPad. There may not be a difference, but I cannot tell. Siri on Mac is the second dumbest Siri. Why is this Siri not always on? My Mac is always plugged in. Even my iPhone and iPad can have Siri always listening in “Hey Siri…” mode. Worse, there is a way to get Siri to answer to “Hey Siri…” on the Mac, but it’s extra hoops most users don’t bother to jump through.
Which Siri is the dumbest?
What? Really? Yes. Try it. Even if you don’t have HomePod you may have an Apple Store or Best Buy nearby, so try asking HomePod Siri some questions or to play music. Or, make reminders. Or, just play music without getting lost, and by lost I mean Siri does not handle context well, and it’s worse on HomePod.
This tweet exemplifies Siri’s issue with context.
Yes, I expect Siri to improve across the board, though I don’t understand why Siri’s personalities– defined as the ability to understand and respond accordingly– are different on multiple devices.