Former Apple Employees Reflect on Siri's 'Squandered Lead' Over Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 14, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The Information has published an in-depth look at how Siri has transitioned from one of Apple's most promising technologies into a "major problem" for the company. The article includes interviews with a dozen former Apple employees who worked on the various teams responsible for the virtual assistant.


    The report claims that many of the employees acknowledged for the first time that Apple rushed Siri to be included in the iPhone 4s before the technology was fully ready, resulting in several internal debates over whether to continue patching up the half-baked product or start from scratch.
    The team working on Siri was overseen by Apple's then iOS chief Scott Forstall, but his attention was reportedly divided by other major projects, including the upcoming launch of Apple Maps. As a result, Forstall enlisted Richard Williamson, who was also managing the Apple Maps project, to head up the Siri team.

    According to the report, several former employees said Williamson made a number of decisions that the rest of the Siri team disagreed with, including a plan to improve the assistant's capabilities only once a year.

    Williamson, in an emailed response to the report, wrote that it's "completely untrue" that he decided Siri shouldn't be improved continuously.
    Forstall and Williamson were both fired by Apple in 2012 following the botched launch of Apple Maps on iOS 6. The former employees interviewed said they lamented losing Forstall, who "believed in what they were doing."

    Another interesting tidbit is that the Siri team apparently didn't even learn about the HomePod until 2015. Last year, Bloomberg News reported that Apple had developed several speaker prototypes dating back to 2012, but the Siri team presumably didn't know due to Apple's culture of secrecy.
    The report says that Siri is the main reason the HomePod has "underperformed," and said Siri's capabilities "remain limited compared to the competition," including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
    Some former employees interviewed noted that "while Apple has tried to remake itself as a services company, its core is still product design."

    Apple responded to today's report with a statement noting Siri is "the world's most popular voice assistant" and touted "significant advances" to the assistant's performance, scalability, and reliability.
    The full-length article is a worthwhile read for those interested in learning more about Siri's internal struggles and shortcomings.

    The Information: The Seven-Year Itch: How Apple's Marriage to Siri Turned Sour

    Article Link: Former Apple Employees Reflect on Siri's 'Squandered Lead' Over Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  2. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Siri does what I NEED, not always what I WANT.

    Actually, hardly ever what I REALLY want.

    Oh well.

    AND, again, Siri, why can’t I say, “Turn off the kitchen light and the dining room light?”


  3. Regime2008 Suspended


    Oct 3, 2017
    Basshead in ATL
    Significant advances? Siri seems about the same since its launch...
  4. HumpYourWayUp macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2007
    Best Line in the article:

    "Those problems lie entirely with the original Siri team, certainly not me"

    LOL thats the attitude for effective teamwork!
  5. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    Hopefully IOS 12 will see Siri improve for more than just basic tasks
  6. RedGala macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2015
    Almost got an internship with the Siri team; their loss.
  7. tkukoc macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Wish I Was In Space!
    Well they changed her from a wavy bar to a bunch of floating colors in a circle..that took.. Courage! o_O
  8. Brookzy macrumors 601


    May 30, 2010
    I can't help but think that starting from scratch might still be the best option...
  9. jjhny macrumors regular


    Sep 16, 2005
    Tim would rather virtue signal. Or sing carpool karaoke than do the visionary thing.

    His background is making a supply chain work. Not very helpful for envisioning the future.
  10. Spaceboy88 macrumors member


    Apr 2, 2005
    New York, NY
    SiriKit is a joke. Until they allow you to control 3rd party music services with Siri, it's useless to me. If I'm going to send money or hail an uber, I'm going into the actual app for that.
  11. nfl46 macrumors 604


    Oct 5, 2008
    Lol, it sure does seem like it. She may have a better looking UI, but it hasn't advanced as much as it possibly could.
  12. andromedaan macrumors member


    Apr 10, 2010
    Anyone who has ever used Google Assistant knows how crappy and inferior Siri is. It's a SHAME!
  13. nfl46 macrumors 604


    Oct 5, 2008
    Almost? What happened, if you don't mind saying?
  14. Nicksd84 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    They need a partner for Siri to be good, but alas the battle lines have been drawn.
  15. Spaceboy88 macrumors member


    Apr 2, 2005
    New York, NY
    Alexa too. I will often ask Alexa questions and the same question to Siri and 90% of the time, Siri can't answer it. Sadly, Apple must not realize that there's more we'd want to ask Siri than "Is it raining outside" or "how do I get to California Pizza Kitchen."
  16. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    The way I see Siri is that does lack in some areas and Google and Alexa are significantly better in deciphering and dictation.

    But personally the way I use Siri is for simple tasks and basic questions. I really don’t use Siri for anything advanced that would prohibit my experience otherwise. It does exactly what I need it to and I use it for dictation all the time, Which is fairly accurate.

    Where I find most uses for Siri more conveniently is with my Apple Watch, AirPods and it works really well for the HomePod. That’s all I could ask for at this point. But there’s always room for improvement, which should be a goal.
  17. Jsameds macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2008
    With a piece of hardware on the market now that relies on Siri, hopefully Apple will start taking it a little more seriously.
  18. AngstyKylo macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2018
    London UK
    Multiple timers might be useful for cooking, but otherwise it's decent at making reminders, dictating patient notes, replying to email/SMS etc... If you know what it's reliable at and forget using it for anything else it's decent. If you don't have to use your device hands free then it's kinda slower than what you can manually do most of the time anyway.
  19. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    Or Alexa for that matter. I agree. It's a shame.
  20. BMcCoy macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    Yeah, it certainly reads like the underlying problem in the team, is teamwork. Perhaps leadership issues, perhaps culture and environment, perhaps just the people combination.. but certainly people factors rather than technological factors appear to be the biggest challenge.

    This may reflect on Apple's internal culture more broadly. Clearly this is a company with unlimited cash, and world-class marketing skills, but if there is a problem in the team.. with leadership.. with strategic vision.. with cultural philosophies.. it would explain some of the mis-steps that we've seen Apple take, that see them losing ground to other kids on the techie block.
  21. Apple Corps, Mar 14, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2018

    Apple Corps macrumors 68030

    Apr 26, 2003
    Apple's response is indicative of the corporate culture that has emerged under Cook's "leadership" - way too much corporate speak obfuscating the reality.
  22. Braderunner macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2015
    Some say that Siri does enough. Others say not enough. I agree with the latter group.
    For as long as it's been around, it's surprising how limited it still is.
  23. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    What a complete BS response from Apple. They should've just said nothing. Siri is the 'world's most popular voice assistant'? There are far more Android devices in use around the world today than iOS devices. Way to repeat an old, tired talking point that was actually accurate in 2011 when the iPhone 4S launched.
  24. genovelle macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2008
    My iPhone must be better than anyone else’s. I find Siri very useful and the things people claim they like the others for seem silly to me.
  25. oliversl macrumors 65816

    Jun 29, 2007
    Scott Forstall bought Siri, so The New Apple put it in the freezer, typical corporate behavior regarding internal problem. But this time being late at Asistant AI will cost Apple a lot, a lot!

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