When Apple introduced its voice command “personal assistant” and “knowledge navigator” Siri a couple of years ago, we were warned that she was still in “beta” – or test – form. But we were told we could make her smarter by using her, and letting her get to know us.
Siri seemed pretty smart in the beginning – and she had a sense of humor. If I asked her, “Will Apple stock go up tomorrow?” She would answer, “Jerry, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be moonlighting as a personal assistant.”
But ask Siri the same questions now, and you get different answers. Stupid answers, as if she didn’t even understand the question. She probably didn’t. She seems to be getting dumb – and dumber.
Nick Bilton of The New York Times Bits blog today adds his name to the list of those who have become disillusioned of late with Siri. Read his column here.
I couldn’t resist adding my comment, which I repeat here, for Garrett on the Road readers:
Steve Wozniak commented publicly six months ago that he thinks Siri is getting dumber, rather than smarter: “I used to ask Siri, ‘What are the five biggest lakes in California?’ and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate…” He goes on. I would agree. Instead of witty, clever, correct answers that I used to get, Siri now mostly deflects answers to those same questions, “Would you like me to do a web search for (whatever)…” And then there are the Siri TV ads with Samuel L. Jackson, John Malkovich and Zooey Deschanel depicting Siri being asked a series of questions; testers were unable to get Siri to provide the same answers. Just try it yourself. Siri doesn’t even know what “gazpacho” is: “I found 6 restaurants whose reviews mention Gazpacho fairly close to you.” (A list follows.) In May, a former Apple employee was quoted as saying Steve Jobs would be embarrassed by Siri’s performance. Some tech analysts have called for Apple to shut Siri down. But I dunno; I think if there were a waiting line of things that Apple needed to fix about its products, Siri would have to take a number, behind AutoCorrect.
Yeah, don’t even get me started on AutoCorrect. The latest version can’t even spell “Jerry”.
Though I generally love Apple products, I have ripped other aspects of them in this column, including the failures I see manifest in the “New iPad”. One of the five I list is the omission of Siri. Maybe I ought to re-think that one.
Apple needs to gets it act together, or “Siri-free” products could wind up being a selling point.
July 15, 2012