Apple Details Improvements to Siri's Ability to Recognize Names of Local Businesses and Destinations

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In a new entry in its Machine Learning Journal, Apple has detailed how it approached the challenge of improving Siri's ability to recognize names of local points of interest, such as small businesses and restaurants.


In short, Apple says it has built customized language models that incorporate knowledge of the user's geolocation, known as Geo-LMs, improving the accuracy of Siri's automatic speech recognition system. These models enable Siri to better estimate the user's intended sequence of words.

Apple says it built one Geo-LM for each of the 169 Combined Statistical Areas in the United States, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, which encompass 80 percent of the country's population. Apple also built a single global Geo-LM to cover all areas not defined by CSAs around the world.

When a user queries Siri, the system is customized with a Geo-LM based on the user's current location. If the user is outside of a CSA, or if Siri doesn't have access to Location Services, the system defaults to the global Geo-LM.

Apple's journal entry is highly technical, and quite exhaustive, but hopefully this means that Siri should be able to better understand the names of local points of interest, and also be able to better distinguish between a Tom's Restaurant in Iowa and Kansas based on a user's geolocation.

In its testing, Apple found that the customized language models reduced Siri's error rate by between 41.9 and 48.4 percent in eight major U.S. metropolitan regions: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco, excluding mega-chains like Walmart.

Siri still trails Google Assistant in overall accuracy, according to a recent study by research firm Loup Ventures, but hopefully these improvements eliminate some of the frustration of querying Siri about obscurely named places.

Article Link: Apple Details Improvements to Siri's Ability to Recognize Names of Local Businesses and Destinations
 

GuruZac

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2015
1,160
2,480
Siri is about to catch up to Google Assistant now that Apple has the man behind Google Assistant John Giannandrea. Should be good times ahead for Siri functionality. FINALLY.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,261
I just wish the "pick a number" feature would work consistently. I'd say pick a number between 1 and 7, then it would read that and then change the text to "pickernam" at the last moment. And then it'll say "1 plus 7 = 8".

How on earth did it even get that from pickernam? Sigh I dunno.

Pick a number between 1 and 5. Works fine.
Then pick a number between 1 and 7. Might work fine.
Then pick a number between 1 and 26. Goes all Pickernam. Why? :(
 
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keifer.street

macrumors regular
Jul 9, 2013
123
165
Too bad Siri still sucks. This is what I got after reading the article and asking Siri when the nearest Best Buy will close. Instead of telling me when the Best Buy (5 mins from my house) will close or the hours, it searched a result for ‘Best Buy Soccer’, which is actually farther away than Best Buy. And it didn’t even give me the hours for that location, anyway - even though it was the wrong business. Major fail.

I live in a metro area, Charlotte, NC so this search should not be difficult... if I wanted the hours for ‘Best Buy Soccer’ I would have added the word ‘Soccer’ to my query.

Incidentally, Google Assistant gives me the correct answer to the same question. Every time.
 

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whyamihere

macrumors 6502
Jun 30, 2008
478
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'nati
Pick a number between 1 and 5. Works fine.
Then pick a number between 1 and 7. Might work fine.
Then pick a number between 1 and 26. Goes all Pickernam. Why?
They all worked fine for me, perhaps accent or enunciating plays a factor. One thing that might give you better results is to instead say "pick a number 1 through 7"
 
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kasakka

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2008
2,080
764
I feel like a lot of Apple's features work great - as long as you are in California. I had a pretty good time navigating with my iPad in San Francisco using Siri and Apple Maps. Elsewhere? I go back to Google Maps pretty quickly.
 

peteo

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2007
224
134
Too bad Siri still sucks. This is what I got after reading the article and asking Siri when the nearest Best Buy will close. Instead of telling me when the Best Buy (5 mins from my house) will close or the hours, it searched a result for ‘Best Buy Soccer’, which is actually farther away than Best Buy. And it didn’t even give me the hours for that location, anyway - even though it was the wrong business. Major fail.

I live in a metro area, Charlotte, NC so this search should not be difficult... if I wanted the hours for ‘Best Buy Soccer’ I would have added the word ‘Soccer’ to my query.

Incidentally, Google Assistant gives me the correct answer to the same question. Every time.
Man the reviews of Best Buy Soccer are very bad. I wonder people get pissed because siri tells them to drive there and when that arrive find out that it's not an actual best buy.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,261
They all worked fine for me, perhaps accent or enunciating plays a factor. One thing that might give you better results is to instead say "pick a number 1 through 7"
Thanks for the tip, I'll try that instead. Honestly it used to work absolutely fine, just seems the more I ask it the more unreliable it gets. Now it's practically 50/50 whether it works or not.

Maybe it's because I ask the question so often with one question after the other, Siri thinks it heard me wrong and tries to figure out something else. I dunno.
 

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,925
3,788
Doing this one thing supposedly reduced the error rate 40-50% in testing. Wow. I'd love to know what the error rate actually is.
 

GuruZac

macrumors 65816
Sep 9, 2015
1,160
2,480
Yeah I would really love to use Maps exclusively, but Waze is far smarter and my wife and I have both had a lot of problems with Maps not rerouting. We're both on iPhone 7 Plus but she is on iOS 11.4.1 and I'm on iOS 12 Public Beta 5. I tried to use Siri the other day and it didn't seem like it saved much time. Maybe it gets better with use?
 

WilliamG

macrumors G3
Mar 29, 2008
9,104
2,566
Seattle
Apple can't even make searching within Maps work properly. It does not return location based on proximity. That should be a really simple fix, yet its been the problem for years. How hard is THAT to fix?
Don’t even get me started. What’s worse is if I use Siri to call Daniel Jones, she used to say, “Making a phone call to Daniel Jones.” However, just recently this got updated so she just says, “Making a phone call to Daniel.”

Now I just hope she’s calling the right Daniel out of numerous Daniels in my contacts...
 
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apolloa

Suspended
Oct 21, 2008
12,318
7,798
Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
Siri will always suck, Apple refuses to fix it going around this whole ridiculous ‘privacy’ rubbish! Siri is as embarrassing on today’s tech world just as much as ios’s auto correction is! Both utterly utterly useless.
 
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