Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
AI Businesses Google Privacy

'I'm Not Sure I Understand' -- How Apple's Siri Lost Her Mojo (wsj.com) 148

Apple has struggled to make Siri as smart as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa because of disagreements among its staff and its decisions to limit how long it stores user data, former Apple employees told The Wall Street Journal. The company unveiled a new version of Siri during its WWDC keynote address on Monday but failed to show the world how it's much better than competing products from Google and Amazon (alternative source). There are a few areas where blame can be placed. The Journal said Apple keeps data for only six months while Google and Amazon continue to hold on to it, learning more and more about specific users as they continue to use the personal assistants. From a report: Some former executives, close observers and even devoted customers say Apple's innovative power appears to be waning, stymied by a lack of urgency and difficulty bringing ideas to fruition. In nearly six years under Chief Executive Tim Cook, Apple's stock has soared but the company has not delivered a breakthrough product on par with the string of hits under late founder Steve Jobs, which included the iPod, iPhone and iPad. "Siri is a textbook of leading on something in tech and then losing an edge despite having all the money and the talent and sitting in Silicon Valley," said Holger Mueller, a principal analyst Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

'I'm Not Sure I Understand' -- How Apple's Siri Lost Her Mojo

Comments Filter:
  • Never used it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:23AM (#54576583)
    I had Siri-enabled iPhones for several years but never used the feature. Probably because I'm a visual person and prefer text over speech. Having used Amazon Echo at a friend's place, I have no desire get that or an Apple HomePod.
    • Re:Never used it... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gilgaron ( 575091 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:34AM (#54576683)
      It used to be good for stuff that takes a bit of fussing to enter, like a timer or a calendar reminder and so on. Lately for whatever reason it has become even more useless than it already was... "Set 10 minute timer" and it searches the internet for that string...in any case it certainly isn't worth having it always listening for "Hey, Siri" akin to the creepy home listening devices.
      • They have to get rid of the 'search the web if all else fails' fallback.
      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @02:00PM (#54578379)

        it certainly isn't worth having it always listening for "Hey, Siri" akin to the creepy home listening devices.

        While I agree, I think it's worth pointing out a key difference: Siri determines on-device whether you said "Hey, Siri", and only starts transmitting after that.

        In contrast, after receiving an Echo Dot as a gift from my company last year, we found a section in the companion mobile app (which, suspiciously, no longer seems to be available) that gave you a list of every time Alexa thought you had talked to it. Creepily, it even provided the recordings themselves so that you could listen through them to evaluate its performance and let Amazon know if Alexa had messed up. After listening to a few dozen of the recordings, it became apparent that Alexa was always listening and always transmitting, even if you weren't talking to it, since the recordings frequently started before we ever talked to it, as well as containing comments we had made long after accidentally triggering it.

        My wife, a "normal" non-nerd, was the one who was initially in favor of setting it up, and she's the only one who ever got any regular use out of it (as a voice-activated Pandora player), but even she's creeped out enough by it now that she asked if I'd be okay selling it on Craigslist.

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          While it is possible that the Echo is 'always listening and transmitting', nothing in your anecdote illustrates that. It is entirely possible that they are recording the last minute or two ON DEVICE, and when a 'trigger' is received THEN it transmits the buffered data and the data for a minute or two AFTER the device is triggered.

        • With the Fire Stick, you need to press a hardware button to activate Alexa.
        • Alexa is always listening but it is not always transmitting. They do the first layer of detecting "Alexa" (or "Amazon" or "Computer" if you change the wake up word) on the device, and then transmit it to the cloud for verification if the device thinks it has a hit. That behavior is easily verified with a network sniffer. Sometimes the cloud software will decide the device had a false positive and not trigger Alexa after all.
    • Re:Never used it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:35AM (#54576685)

      Siri is useful in the car when you want to do simple things: send a text message, play music (you can name), answer simple questions or set reminders/calendar dates. I can't say I've used Siri in any other context: in most environments talking bothers other people, so I try not to talk.

      My parents have amazon echo, and I haven't really found a use for it in the house except to play music I can name. I'm not sure what else I *would* do with these things. In all other cases I'd rather be quiet and push buttons on my phone. Turning off lights and what not is a feature I always forget to use and usually forget to set up at all... the only time its useful is in bed at night, and I don't really want any further spying in the bedroom for a number of reasons.

      • I'm not sure what else I *would* do with these things.

        Amazon Echo has a bunch of "Easter eggs" that you can trigger. My favorite, "Beam me up, Scotty."

        http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-echo-easter-eggs-2016-7/ [businessinsider.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Here's what we use Google Home for (and we use it a lot):

        Hey Google, set a timer for the hot tub for 20 minutes (This one is so that I remember to put the top back on the hot tub after the chemicals have had some time to be run through the jets and filter).
        Hey Google, set a timer for salmon for 12 minutes (cooking)
        Hey Google, what is the smoke point for Avacado Oil? (cooking)
        Hey Google, turn on all the lights in the Family Room
        Hey Google, turn on the fan in the master bedroom
        Hey Google, play Pop Li
      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:58PM (#54577873)

        Siri is useful in the car when you want to do simple things: send a text message, play music (you can name), answer simple questions or set reminders/calendar dates.

        Honestly it screws up even simple stuff most of the time. It cannot handle my wife's name which isn't anything exotic. I don't speak with a weird accent either - standard midwest bland. I find Siri to be frustratingly unreliable and routinely takes more time to use (and correct) than simply typing it in. I do use it here and there but not commonly and never in public. I don't like speaking to my phone out loud in public mostly for privacy reasons. It is terrible at dictation in my experience especially if there is any context involved.

        Siri kind of reminds me of the handwriting recognition software on the Newton from back in the day. Neat but not really very useful and fails to work far too often.

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          I used a Windows phone for a while and Cortana, while absolutely useless for almost everything else, was surprisingly good at dictation. Even with context-dependent phrasing, there were no eel-filled hovercrafts anywhere.

      • I find my Echo really useful in the kitchen. My hands are busy so voice commands are handy. Mostly I play music or other audio content and set timers, but asking for the time of the day or the weather forecast is also nice. I also have a Dot at my electronics workbench, mostly for music. Same issue again, hands are occupied.
    • About the only time that I've found it useful is navigation -- hold the button, say "navigate to [address]" is convenient when you're driving. Almost invariably when I've tried to use it for anything else, I end up having to go back and do whatever I wanted by hand anyway because Siri didn't get it or couldn't do what I wanted.

    • Not just that, when you type in a search, you KNOW that it's correct, as opposed to one of these AI agents that may or may not interpret your question accurately. Not to mention the mess it would make of a lot of accents. I've made it a point never to use Siri, Cortana or hey Google.
      • Not to mention the mess it would make of a lot of accents.

        With the Amazon Echo, you're supposed to "train" it to your voice pattern. My friend got pissed off because his Echo responded to me without any training. That didn't surprise me. I was using my telephone voice to speak as clearly as possible. If I can talk to pissed off users on the phone, I can talk to any voice-enabled device.

    • I have the same thing when it comes to news articles. I like ones I can read, I never watch video. This is because I can read, and interrupt reading, at my own pace with less problems in text than with a video.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Ditto especially with my impediments. :(

  • That's a NEGATIVE? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:23AM (#54576585)

    Wiping user data after six months is a landmark for the industry!

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      It is a negative because as a result, they get passed over by their competitors. Essentially showing the world that wiping user data after six months is a bad idea.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by guruevi ( 827432 )

        It just goes to show that this isn't real "AI" and that we have no effective "AI" as of yet. A "true" AI would "learn" patterns without having to hold onto all the details. The fact that we need to hold on to every single thing spoken to these machines just shows they're just a SOUNDEX query on massive databases

        • by Megol ( 3135005 )

          Not true. If you talk with someone you regularly talk with it is easier to understand pronunciations, speech patterns and how that person expresses things.

        • In the case of Echo, Amazon's Alexa app allows you to answer "did I do the right thing?" for each query, showing you what Alexa thought it heard. When you answer "yes" or especially "no", the query likely gets flagged for future voice recognition improvement training. Someone can then look and see if it recognizes the query properly in future tests after making improvements to the core recognition algorithms. In short, having a massive database of stored queries allows Alexa developers to perform regress

    • Yeah, except that it makes Siri less effective in interpreting what you want based on history - unlike Alexa that remembers you forever. I do agree that privacy is important, which is ONE reason that I simply don't use any of those.
    • Yes it's a negative (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @11:42AM (#54577259)
      The issue isn't duration of data retention. It's who controls the data retention. Yes Google can potentially keep your voice search data for longer, but they let you review and delete it if you want [google.com]. Amazon also lets you erase Alexa's recordings [time.com] if you want.

      Apple lets you erase your search history, but it's unclear if that also deletes the audio recordings they have of you.

      Google and Amazon = YOU decide
      Apple = They decide for you what's best
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worf.nCOUGARet minus cat> on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:05PM (#54577433)

        The issue isn't duration of data retention. It's who controls the data retention. Yes Google can potentially keep your voice search data for longer, but they let you review and delete it if you want. Amazon also lets you erase Alexa's recordings if you want.

        Apple lets you erase your search history, but it's unclear if that also deletes the audio recordings they have of you.

        Google and Amazon = YOU decide
        Apple = They decide for you what's best

        In other words, it's a wank control.

        Because Google and Amazon know normal users will not bother with it. They give so many warnings about "losing your personal history" and other crap that most users simply don't bother (assuming they know they can even access the setting). Sure, maybe once in a while they come across an article saying to do it, and they do it then, but that's maybe once a year tops. Whereas Apple does it every 6 months, regardless and automatically. Unless you're a super tech privacy geek that sets an alarm to clear your history every day, that is.

        Anyhow, the real issue is SIri's database is limited intentionally by Apple. Unlike Alphabet or Amazon, whose privacy policy allows sharing of data within themselves, Apple's privacy policy silos all the data. So while Google Assistant can access your YouTube history, your ad views (yes, Alphabet can share your history within itself, including all the ad networks they own), your emails and other data, Siri is very limited in handling the data it was allowed. So Siri cannot access your Uber history on iCloud, (but is allowed to ask the Uber app to schedule a car via SiriKit but is unable to retain that information - again, privacy)

        And it's not just why Apple is on a privacy streak (even at WWDC they continue to poke at Google and others about you being the product), but also because by not having your data on their servers, it's less data they need to serve up to law enforcement. They can't provide what they never collect, and if the data stays local on the device (which for increasing amounts of data, it does), they cannot collect what they're not provided.

        Yes, it makes their products less "integrated" because they're not communicating with the cloud constantly, but Apple feels that's the best way to operate in these current times.

        • by deong ( 88798 )

          I'm not aware of any product or company that's ever successfully made a pitch based on "yes we cost more or don't work as well, but look at our sweet privacy policy".

          I'm not saying they're right or wrong from an ethical standpoint. I don't even think such a global binary classification exists. The "right" amount of privacy depends on who you're asking. But regardless of what you determine the "right amount" to be, I'm pretty well convinced you can't sell much of a product by appealing to it.

        • In other words, it's a wank control.

          Because Google and Amazon know normal users will not bother with it.

          Wank control or control of wank?

          Any user not bothered enough to go through their history is also not bothered by the collection of it. Google and Amazon therefore appease both the commoner and the tinfoil hatter in different ways. Apple, they try and appease everyone with a mandated one size fits all approach, and as usual the experience is mediocre for all.

          • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

            "Any user not bothered enough to go through their history is also not bothered by the collection of it."

            I'm an exception. I want my stuff to work and to not have to waste my time wrestling data from a company who's primary business it is to sell my eyes and sell my data.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          In other words, WAAAAHHHHHH, someone said something bad about my favourite thing

          FTFY, because your entire post sounds like spoilt milk.

          If you don't think Apple is also selling your data, I have a bride to sell you with very nice views of the bay.

          Google is different only in the fact that they give you a reasonable demonstration that the data they sell is anonymised. Sure, Apple automatically deletes the data in six months, but that's 5 months and 30 days after they've sold it on, old data isn't worth anythi

    • Wiping user data after six months is a landmark for the industry!

      Too bad the user community has already proven they don't give a shit about privacy, so this means nothing to them, other than the fact that a security-enhanced product doesn't work as well as the competition who remembers you forever.

      Create a demand for good security and privacy? Now THAT would be a landmark for the industry. Hell, that would be a landmark for humanity.

  • Claiming that Apple has lost it's mojo because it hasn't had an iPhone/iPad/iPod-sized hit in several years is preposterous on its face, as is claiming it because Siri only stores 6 months of user data, which is a direct reflection of Apple's stance on privacy. Personally I don't want companies storing my data for years and am willing to trade that for less accurate results.
    • As far as Wall Street analysts are concern, the quarterly results are the only thing that matters. If other cellphone manufacturers have something new and exciting each quarter, and Apple doesn't, Apple is falling behind. Eight quarters without something new and exciting is a long time for Wall Street.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        the quarterly results are the only thing that matters.

        Correct.

        If other cellphone manufacturers have something new and exciting each quarter, and Apple doesn't, Apple is falling behind.

        Incorrect.

        Eight quarters without something new and exciting is a long time for Wall Street.

        Your post betrays a monumental misunderstanding of how the market works. Analysts are not excited by "new shiny" unless they believe that the new shiny will be associated with improvements in the company's bottom line.

        Analysts don't ca

        • Analysts are not excited by "new shiny" [...]

          I must be reading The Wall Street Journal wrong then.

      • As far as Wall Street analysts are concern, the quarterly results are the only thing that matters. If other cellphone manufacturers have something new and exciting each quarter, and Apple doesn't, Apple is falling behind. Eight quarters without something new and exciting is a long time for Wall Street.

        Wall Street doesn't give a shit about new and shiny gear. Wall Street cares about profitable and growing. The only reason Wall Street pays attention to what new stuff Apple is making is over concern that it might affect profits and growth. That hasn't been much of a problem for the last 15 years or so.

        Apple introduces a major new product platforms roughly once a decade. Apple ][ in 1977, Macintosh in 1984, Newton in 1993 (only major failure), iPod/iTunes 2001, iPhone, 2007, iPad 2010 (really just a bigg

    • Siri only stores 6 months of user data, which is a direct reflection of Apple's stance on privacy.

      You believe that? Now pull the other one.

      • Siri only stores 6 months of user data, which is a direct reflection of Apple's stance on privacy.

        You believe that? Now pull the other one.

        It might be true. But the feds are sure to store it for much longer. And they sure do appreciate people building a corpus at higher quality than what they get via the phone network.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Here's the thing though.... Apple never had the data to begin with so they aren't actually wiping anything.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm in the same boat - I rarely use Siri, perhaps once or twice in the last year on my iPhone and NEVER on my iMac.

      I run Windows 10 under Parallels on my small MacBook Pro and have NEVER even started Cortana, nor Siri on it.

      Why? Well, for one thing, I don't need an IA. Second, although I trust Apple and its privacy policies, I absolutely do not trust Microsoft (particularly after the revelations during the initial roll-out of W10, when it was widely discovered how much "telemetry" was being sent back to Red

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:32AM (#54576667)

    When Apple lost Jobs in the '90s it almost failed. Only his return in 1997 saved Apple from the tech company trash heap. Every new innovation Apple ever pushed to success was championed by Jobs. Note I said championed, not developed. Jobs was an idea man. The only ideas Cook has are socio-political. It's dead, it just hasn't caught on yet. Eventually Apple will sell off its existing tech to try to exist a little longer. The days of its introducing new tech world changing innovation are gone.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Jobs was part of the problem. He jumped on technologies early, to get to market first. Hype them up, call them revolutionary... But by being first, they also tended to be limited and rarely got the kind of development they needed to be good.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 08, 2017 @01:08PM (#54577937) Homepage Journal

        Jobs was part of the problem. He jumped on technologies early, to get to market first.

        I don't agree. Jobs is notable for jumping on technologies second or even third, but not settling for a second- or third-rate job from those in his employ. If you name a market which Apple blew wide open, it's always possible to name a product which is substantially similar which predates it. Not usually by very much, mind you.

        What Apple used to do best was take someone else's idea and do a much better job. Jobs would get his hands on it, say "this and this and this are stupid, make me a product which is not stupid" and then he would hammer on engineers until they produced something that was pleasant to use and behold. And no one should discount the importance of that, because it is so seldom actually done, and also because he clearly had substantial insight and/or was willing to listen to other people who had substantial insight often enough to be successful.

        As far as I am concerned, the only place that I can see that Apple has really failed so far (almost going away before because they didn't have Steve Jobs notwithstanding) is iTunes, which genuinely pisses people off. If people actually bought mp3 players any more, there might be room to blow Apple right out of the market by making a companion app that wasn't garbage. How ironic, since we know Apple for doing just that.

        People didn't just use Apple products because of the RDF, they really have had a history of making nicer interfaces which are easier to use than those of the competition. I have mostly avoided them because of various annoying limitations or overpricing, and have mostly been sorry when I bothered to venture into that field, but my interaction with Apple has always been on the hobbyist level and Apple is not interested in feeding that market, nor even simply not being abusive to it. It doesn't generate any money for them, so eh... piss on 'em. It's hard to blame them for that, though, as it is a typical corporate attitude.

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          Jobs would get his hands on it, say "this and this and this are stupid, make me a product which is not stupid" and then he would hammer on engineers until they produced something that was pleasant to use and behold. And no one should discount the importance of that...

          Indeed! Products designed by a committee of suits usually suck. They are more interested in office politics than product quality. Steve's obsessive personality cut through the BS.

          I tried to use my Android to read email on Outlook.com the other

    • Eventually Apple will sell off its existing tech to try to exist a little longer. The days of its introducing new tech world changing innovation are gone.

      Apple can just flail around burning cash for years before they reach the failure point, especially if they downsize, sell real estate, etc. In the interim they could potentially find some other idea man to take the helm.

  • by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:36AM (#54576697)

    "Siwi, wecommend a westauwant."

    "I do not understand 'wecommend a westauwant.'"

    "See? Total cwap!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It wasn't a Walled Garden; it was a Garden of Eden: They wanted anybody who was interested to be able to tinker with and provide advancements for their software; there were mailing lists, solid documentation, common and fundamental FOSS tools, etc.

    Then the iPhone came out, and it all went to shit.

    The whole thing from software to hardware became increasingly locked down, and hidden away behind proprietary, magical, black boxes. You want software? It needs to go through Apple's stores; you cannot do anything

  • Siri's improving (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @10:42AM (#54576757) Homepage

    In the past, Siri was pretty much equivalent to a speech-recognition interface to the Google search box. That, plus "hey Siri, set a timer for 35 minutes" on laundry day was about all I could get Siri to usefully do.

    Still, yesterday she managed to handle this conversation in a useful manner:

    Me: Hey Siri, what time does the nearest post office open tomorrow morning?
    Siri: Do you mean this post office? (Show map with the nearest post office to my location indicated)
    Me: Yes, that one.
    Siri: The post office at (that address) is open from 9 am to 5 pm tomorrow
    Me: Can you show me that address again on the map? (since the map was no longer being displayed, and I wanted to review it)
    Sir: Here it is (shows map again)

    Maybe Alexa and Cortana are light-years beyond this by now (I don't know, I've never used them), but I thought the above showed some progress on Siri's part -- in particular, Siri is starting to keep the context of the conversation in mind when interpreting follow-on requests, rather than treating each request as an independent/stand-alone query.

    • While that may be happening, I've also noticed Siri getting worse at some things. I use Siri a lot to create reminders since it's easier than typing it in and choosing a location, time, or other trigger for an alert. She's gotten better with things like 'Siri, add a reminder at 9 PM today to 'do laundry tomorrow morning,'" which she used to schedule for "tomorrow morning" even if I asked it separately: "Add a reminder at 9 PM today" / "OK, tell me what for" / "To do laundry tomorrow morning." Now she'll oft

      • Re:Siri's improving (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @11:34AM (#54577173) Homepage
        I've noticed this too: "Add new reminder for 7pm today". Answer: "OK, I've updated your reminder". Aaargh - what have you done? What reminder have you changed? Wasn't the phrase "add new" enough for you?
        • Seri-ous question: can you say, "Siri, undo?"
          • Seri-ous question: can you say, "Siri, undo?"

            No, because she would then de-compile herself. You'd just be left with a pile of dead 0s and 1s, and something beautiful in the world would have been lost forever.

    • Maybe Alexa and Cortana are light-years beyond this by now (I don't know, I've never used them ...

      I have used Alexa (on other people's devices) a fair bit, as well as Cortana. They seem to suck equally bad as Siri, in my experience.

      Alexa, especially, really seems to require that you format your requests in very specific ways - that's the opposite of what I'd expect from a so-called "intelligent assistant".

    • That mirrors my experiences. I used it when I first bought an Apple product years ago - it works great to create tasks, send text messages, and hands free stuff "do I have any messages?" I'm able to edit message or have it read them back to me before sending.

      But --- that's about all it can do. Few apps can participate (any?)

      I'd like the phone to work as a single unit. "what time is Batman playing tonight?" Great - "Schedule Watch Batman at 8pm and Invite Bob too"

      Search sucks. I ask Siri questio

      • But --- that's about all it can do. Few apps can participate (any?)

        Apple added app integration last year for some specific domains [apple.com] and expanded on it this year (domains like messaging for example, so Siri can send messages through third party messaging apps).

        I also would not put it at the level of personal assistant but I've found it works fairly well generally, and like others have been saying has been generally improving.

        I had read Siri request data was anonymized and kept for 18 months, not 6. But it se

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      The last time I tried to get Siri to play a podcast in my car, I got so frustrated that I resorted to saying "Siri, play", thinking that since there was nothing else but podcasts on my phone, I would be ok.... which she responded with this awful syrupy romantic pop music. I couldn't figure out where it came from or why Siri would think I would want to hear it.

      I figured out later that it was the U2 album.

      I don't bother with Siri in the car anymore, it's far too distracting.

      I would much prefer if my ph

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People who think Siri led in the voice search/assistant tech really don't have very good memories. Google Voice Search was already doing a lot of things that Siri couldn't do at the time Siri was announced and had been doing it since 2010. Even after Siri was announced, GVS quickly closed the gap on the very few things that Siri did (jokes - as if **that** was important!) that GVS didn't do. Further, Nuance's Android product was doing hands free searches well before it came to Siri. Nuance, of cour

  • Steve Jobs was a tyrant but he understood that someone had to be the decider and he had no trouble doing it and doing it better. Apple is resting on its laurels but it certainly has a chance to be a great innovator again. It simply needs someone at the top to be involved enough to squelch any disagreements and have a vision of what they will build. Easier said than done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Look at how Steve and Cook handled mobileme and maps. They sucked at launch and they both took the blame. However Steve became more hands on, while Cook just told his team to fix it. Steve seemed more willing to throw something out and start over if it wasn't going the correct way. Cook seems to use profit to drive development. I think it comes down to this: Steve thought he was an artist that had to manage science people, while Cook thinks he's a businessman who needs to manage artists.

      • I think it comes down to this: Steve thought he was an artist that had to manage science people, while Cook thinks he's a businessman who needs to manage artists.

        + Insightful

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 )

    Siri has issues because it is not a major focus of Apple, it just another me too thing, so they can't compete with Google on that front. It has nothing to do with how hard it violates your privacy.

  • I'm not just talking about Siri but its competitors as well. I haven't used Siri since it was first released and even then it would only be to schedule reminders when I was driving. I also don't know anyone who uses these assistants either (outside of asking it stupid crap when they're drunk). In short, does anyone really care?
  • Have they moved into the Microsoft territory of "Me, too!" ?

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @11:27AM (#54577121)

    The summary says Apple failed to show its products were superior to its competitors. Two sentences later, it says Apple's users data is only retained for 6 months, unlike its competitors which retain it for longer. Does it not realize that answers the question conclusively about which is superior?

    • "Does it not realize that answers the question conclusively about which is superior?"

      You can have all the data in the world and still suck.

      Bing, for instance.

    • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
      I think this is the key issue we should be pondering, right here: are we willing to have our privacy weakened in order to get a better Siri/Alexa/Cortana? Or should we be applauding and working towards one that takes longer to perfect but makes privacy a priority?

      Kinda like the question of weakening privacy rights to get better security, isn't it?
      • Precisely. I've been holding off on most smart devices, just so that I could wait for HomeKit to (maybe?) finally become a thing. Between Samsung's SmartThings, Amazon's Alexa, Google Home, and all the other brands in that space, HomeKit is the only approach I've seen that places a major priority on security and privacy, rather than attempting to make a quick grab for market share by rushing insecure, unvetted devices to market. While I may not care much about privacy in some areas of my life, I absolutely

    • Does it not realize that answers the question conclusively about which is superior?

      Yes. Google's and Amazons who have the data to actually do what is asked rather than appease some tin foil hatters.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:02PM (#54577405) Homepage

    Look at these two statements:

    "Apple has struggled to make Siri as smart as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa because of disagreements among its staff and its decisions to limit how long it stores user data, former Apple employees told The Wall Street Journal.'

    Ok fine. Now I would personally suspect that if six months isn't enough, then they don't use it much anyway, and I suspect the database will be poor in any event. But, now we come to the conclusion...

    "The company unveiled a new version of Siri during its WWDC keynote address on Monday but failed to show the world how it's much better than competing products"

    Much better? Why does it have to be "much" better? Isn't "any" better worthwhile? And isn't "any better than before" also an improvement?

    "Some former executives, close observers and even devoted customers say Apple's innovative power appears to be waning"

    And what does this have to do with how long Siri keeps data? If they are trying to conflate one with the other, fail.

    • Much better? Why does it have to be "much" better?

      Because speech recognition is still in the dark ages.
      Because Apple has released a home speech recognition product that's twice the price of the competition.

      It would want to be MUCH better.

  • "Apple's innovative power appears to be waning"

    It's almost like the colossal asshole that was nevertheless a marketing genius and driving force behind the whole brand is no longer there?

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:35PM (#54577669)

    I've never understood the fascination with talking to your electronic devices. I've used Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa - none seem to work really well.

    I suspect the designers of these systems never had to use them in a noisy car or in a house that had children living in it. Trying to get any of these systems to do what you want in these environments is difficult.

    Voice activated assistants are just like the 3D TV in my house - an interesting toy that gets used a few times and then is forgotten.

  • Perhaps a return to Sculley and openness would save the company.

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:50PM (#54577831) Journal

    Assuming this story is accurate (and it is probably overstating the entire thing), it is still inconsequential. People do not buy iPhones because of Siri. Siri not performing as well as (although in some specific cases it probably does perform better than) some other phone ecosystem's digital assistant is not going to cause people to switch from iPhone to that other platform. Apple knows this, and they are not particularly concerned about getting into a slugfest over it. Apple's style is to behave as if they make the only device of that type in the world, and they will not even acknowledge any competition exists (except in defending their patents). Siri only has to work well enough to do the basic things, and Apple will throw in a small enhancement on occasion and act like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, and their customers will be perfectly content.

  • When Siri first launched, I used it regularly to start timers, and I still use it regularly to do that. However, both when it launched and today, any time I ever try to ask Siri anything else, it just does a google search without reading any information out to me.

    So, basically, Siri has proven to be useless to me for anything but setting timers, because it doesn't seem capable of answering any of my questions. Oh, I guess I use it to check a sports score a few times a year.

    I would love for Siri to do more,

Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time. -- George Carlin

Working...