Over this month, we heard at least two reports regarding Apple’s former employees’ dissatisfaction with Siri. The personal assistant has been called “clunky,” and Apple’s team of mixed reality headset engineers reportedly wanted to replace Siri due to its underwhelming performance with basic tasks.
Interestingly enough, these reports shouldn’t surprise Apple users, as the personal assistant has been the subject of criticism since it debuted. Weirdly, what makes Siri trail behind the competition is what should set it apart: The privacy focus and requests that are processed directly on the device only.
With Apple’s push to keep users’ data private, Siri usually doesn’t access the web to perform tasks, meaning that when you ask it to play a song on Apple Music, it’s not sending your data to advertisers, social media platforms, etc. But while I appreciate Apple’s care with my data, I must say I’m getting sick of Siri, especially while using the HomePod.
HomePod shines a light on how bad Siri is making Apple look
Apple’s HomePod was first introduced in 2017. While the OG version was later discontinued and the company focused on a mini version, Apple decided to bring the fuller sound back to life with a second iteration of the original HomePod. While I still haven’t had the chance to test it, a few issues make my experience with a pair of HomePod mini and a solo OG HomePod look worse than ever.
For example, I once asked HomePod’s Siri to check the weather. “Hey Siri, is it going to rain?” Siri replied: “Yes, it appears to be raining,” except there were no clouds in the sky. Things get tricky when asking the personal assistant to perform basic tasks with the Apple TV.
“Hey Siri, pause,” I ask when watching a TV show. Siri replies, “There’s nothing playing right now.” Or: “Hey Siri, turn off the TV.” A moment of silence, and, “I’m having trouble connecting to the internet.” It gets weirder and weirder. I asked Siri to add eggs to a list, and the personal assistant said it couldn’t find eggs on Apple Music. And so on.
Apple has been addressing these bugs with x.x.1 and x.x.2 updates with tvOS 16, but for every bug the company patches, it seems like a dozen more are available. Don’t even get me started on another issue Siri has, which is the lack of multi-language support.
I suppose if you are American and don’t care about songs that are not in English, you might not struggle that much with Siri. But if you know more than a language – or appreciate songs, movies, or books that are not in your native language – it’s such a pain to ask Siri to play a song, find a movie, etc.
Alexa knows pretty well how to identify a command in English with a Brazilian song – and so does Google Assistant. Siri, on the other hand, completely lacks this knowledge. That said, this is why it has been almost six years since the HomePod was first introduced, and the smart speaker is available in only a few markets.
I could go on and on about the issues users face with Siri – and the HomePod. Compared to Amazon or Google, Apple usually charges two to three times more for its products, and I wonder: what’s the point of a smart speaker that it’s not smart? Will it ever address these complaints?
Since the latest reports show that even Apple doesn’t know what to do with Siri, I wonder if it should admit its failure and do what Samsung did with Bixby and forget it has ever existed. One thing is for sure: Apple will continue hurting its business if it doesn’t fix Siri once and for all, or in a few months from now, people will be writing, “Apple’s Mixed Reality headset shows everything wrong with Siri.” Let’s see.