I’ve never really been a fan of voice assistants. I test solutions like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant often since staying current on their capabilities is part of my job. But personally, I simply haven’t found much use for them. I type out searches on my phone or computer when I want answers to questions, I use things like presence and automation to control most of my smart home devices, and I make purchases the old-fashioned way: with a website or a mobile app. I’m not suggesting I’m in the majority, I’m just saying voice assistants aren’t my thing.
Perhaps my ambivalence toward this tech stems from my early experiences. I’m an iPhone user, so Siri on the iPhone 4S marked the first time I made any effort to embrace a voice assistant. Like many other people who used Siri when it was a newly launched beta on the iPhone 4S in 2010, I was not impressed. Siri didn’t work well at all back then, and after a few months of consistent Siri fails, I gave up for the most part.
Until recently, there were still a couple of things I used Siri for somewhat regularly. And by “a couple,” I mean exactly two. My most frequent use for Siri was to use the hands-free “Hey Siri” feature on my Apple Watch to send text messages while I was driving. Aside from that, the only other function I used regularly was to use Siri to set timers while cooking.
Though my usage was very limited, I did appreciate the convenience that Siri afforded me, particularly while driving. Using Siri is obviously far safer than any other means of sending messages while operating an automobile. But ever since I began using Siri to send messages with my Apple Watch in 2015, that convenience has been overshadowed by a horrible design flaw. And last week I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore.
Serious question: Does anyone at Apple actually exercise?
Apple bills the Apple Watch as a terrific fitness device and it us, but I defy anyone who wears an Apple Watch on their left wrist to do a single push up without triggering Siri. Or a single bench press. Or a single chair dip. Or a single shoulder press. Or anything else that involves exerting force while your hands are bent backwards. And of course, it’s not just during workouts. I accidentally trigger Siri while doing normal day-to-day things all the time. All. The. Time.
For those without an Apple Watch, the multi-function Digital Crown can be used to wake Siri by pressing it in and holding it for a moment. So, anytime you do anything that involves pushing with force, you wake Siri. And when you wake Siri, the watch gives you a pair of haptic “tap” notifications on your wrist, so you think you have a new alert. It’s infuriating, and there are only four ways to handle it:
- Deal with it
- Flip the Apple Watch so the crown is on the left side
- Remove the Apple Watch while exercising, which means you can’t track your workouts
- Disable Siri
Why isn’t there a fifth option to stop the Digital Crown from activating Siri in the Apple Watch’s settings? Good question. Please let me know if you ever figure it out, because it seems pretty ridiculous to me as well. With “Hey Siri” available, most people probably don’t even use the Digital Crown to (intentionally) open Siri at all.
Anyway, I’ve been dealing with accidental Siri activations ever since I first got the Apple Watch in 2015. Workouts aside, I would activate Siri at least a few times every week simply by pushing a door open or doing something similar. So I finally decided to completely disable Siri on my iPhone, since that’s the only way to disable Siri on the Apple Watch.
Why didn’t I do this sooner!?
Not having false alerts every 2 seconds while I exercise is wonderful, but there’s another benefit I wasn’t expecting. The battery life on my iPhone X has gotten a huge boost since disabling Siri. Oddly, Siri never ranked anywhere close to the top of the list of apps that eat up battery on my iPhone. And yet shutting down Siri has significantly extended my phone’s battery life.
Perhaps disabling Siri shuts down other services that run in the background and utilize various Siri capabilities. I’m not sure. Whatever the case, the impact is tremendous. When I place my iPhone X on its charger as I go to sleep each night, it has between 7% and 12% more battery life on average than it did with Siri (and “Hey Siri”) enabled. That’s a big deal. Testing on multiple additional iPhones yielded similar results.
So the moral of the story is this: so many people out there complain about Siri constantly. Take a look at Apple-focused subreddits at just about any given time and you’ll likely see multiple “here’s why Siri stinks” threads. If you’re like me and you find that Siri’s cons far outweigh the pros, disable it. Right now. For Apple Watch users, you’ll never have to deal with all the frustrating false notification alerts again. And for everyone else, you might see some serious battery life gains once you finally part ways with Siri once and for all.