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Why Does Siri Seem So Dumb? (@waltmossberg)

Walt Mossberg, “Why does Siri seem so dumb?”:

Siri’s huge promise has been shrunk to just making voice calls and sending messages to contacts, and maybe getting the weather, using voice commands. Some users find it a reliable way to set timers, alarms, notes and reminders, or to find restaurants.

It’s not even that great for getting information from the iPhone that I would think is a no-brainer. Some examples:

How many steps have I taken today?

Siri: I can’t answer that on your iPhone, but you can find it in the Health app: Open the health app

Siri can show info from other built-in apps, and it would be nice if Apple could expose other useful and probably innocuous data, like steps taken, miles walked, calories burned, etc.

Turn on the flashlight

Siri: Sorry, but I’m not able to do that.

Siri can turn on the camera, and can toggle WiFi, Night Shift, Airplane mode, but not the flashlight.

Show me my last photo

Siri: (no audio response, immediately opens the Photos app showing my camera roll, oddly in Select mode with the Select and Cancel buttons and my query at the top of the screen.)

It would be helpful to at least put me at the end of the stream of photos, but even easier, why can’t Siri just pull up the last one?

I don’t know what features are restricted from access by Siri, how many queries are pre-programmed, or how much artificial intelligence is actually being used, but there is a lot of room to improve obvious queries in the system. Regarding how much AI is actually used, what Mossberg discovered after he contacted Apple about the examples he tried that did not work (and now do) is troubling – it seems like a lot of queries are actually pre-programmed:

If you try most of these broken examples right now, they’ll work properly, because Apple fixed them after I tweeted screenshots of most of them in exasperation, and asked the company about them.

Categories    Apple    Technology