Political correctness aside, Apple has a problem with Siri. The company’s intelligent personal assistant is more of a bimbo or a doofus than useful and doesn’t seem to have learned much over the years. She (the bimbo) or He (doofus; I’m not sure of the male equivalent of bimbo) simply has not learned much after years of trying. Siri’s voice recognition seems to have improved so my somewhat upper Midwest non-accent might be what Siri really likes, although I cannot get her to pronounce Ala Moana Center at all (our state’s largest shopping center, right across from Ala Moana Beach Park, and next to Ala Moana Boulevard).
Siri just isn’t very smart, doesn’t do much that’s truly important or useful, and seems to work much like every other intelligent personal assistant; from Amazon’s Alexa to Microsoft’s Cortana to Google’s whatever-name-they-use-now. All four of these major AI voice response bots have their limitations, and each one has a few different parlor tricks that make them seem better than the competition but the reality is this.
Siri isn’t very smart and neither are the others.
What’s the problem?
Amazon’s Alexa has the biggest problem. She’s stuck at home, mostly tethered to the Echo device, while Siri runs as well as she can on about 1-billion devices that are fully mobile. Alexa has a few useful tricks like playing Amazon music, but getting the weather and reading news are more standard fare. Alexa can’t give you turn-by-turn driving directions; another example that goes in Siri’s favor.
Microsoft’s Cortana isn’t much better, if at all. It’s available on Windows, of course, but the selection of functions remains much the same as Siri on the Mac (which I thought I might like and found that actually breaking old habits to incorporate Siri into my daily workflow to be a struggle). Cortana, of course, runs on iPhones, too, but it’s a third party app and not as well integrated into iOS as Siri, and Microsoft’s presence in the mobile device industry remains anemic.
That leaves Google’s whatever-name-they-use-now as Siri’s most prominent competitor. Google’s playful and colorful logo is as close to a personality as Google or Alphabet, the parent company, seem to get, and Google’s Siri equivalent seems devoid of personality and certainly doesn’t have the mild snark often exhibited by Apple’s wannabe intelligent personal assistant.
Regardless, all of these bimbo bots have their own set of parlor tricks to make them seem smart during presentations and videos but the sad reality is this. They don’t do much. Yet. But we’ve been waiting for years for some set of killer functionality to take over and it’s just not there. Dictation, turn-by-turn driving instructions, weather and sports scores, reading news or texts or email, playing movies and doing web searches, and opening up apps seems to be the extent of this technology, regardless of the platforms. Each one can do a few more tricks than the others, but we seem to be a long way from actual interaction with artificial intelligence.
Of all the intelligent personal assistant’s I’ve tried, Google’s whatever-name-they-use-now responds to queries better than others, especially better than Siri. Alexa is just too limited thanks to the Echo tether. And Microsoft’s Cortana doesn’t have real integration into either Android smartphones or iPhones.
Siri showed great promise before and after Apple purchased the company behind the voice but it became obvious that artificial intelligence didn’t have a big blip on Steve Jobs’ future product radar screen, so Siri languished, the original founders ran out the clock, left Siri behind, and left Apple holding the Siri bag. They formed a company call Viv which they claim can do more than Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or Google’s whatever-name-the-use-now, and then sold it to Samsung. Whether Viv’s founders will be allowed to create what they think the future of artificial intelligence should be only time will tell, but right now all we have are a bunch of bimbo bots that don’t do much.