My Open Letter To Craig Federighi, Requesting Siri Advancements to Help my Vision Impaired Friend

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by GeoSciGuy, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. GeoSciGuy macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #1
    Hello Everyone! I am a long time lurker of MacRumors and have finally decided to create an account for myself. I look forward to being a part of the MacRumors community!

    I wrote an email to Craig Federighi last Wednesday and have yet to hear back. I know I shouldn't expect a response, but the issue I am addressing is a serious one. Much more serious than the FAQs from others he's been responding to recently.

    I chose to come here because I've consistently seen forum members being supportive of each other. I hope you will be just as supportive of me! By all means, feel free to critique me if you think I should have done something differently, and don't be afraid to add new ideas or build off of mine. First and foremost, I want attention brought to these concepts. If enough attention can be garnered, maybe Craig or someone else at Apple will be more likely to respond.

    I added curly brackets { } to areas I edited for privacy reasons. Everything not in curly brackets is part of the original letter.

     
  2. auxbuss macrumors regular

    auxbuss

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    UK
    #2
    More broadly, tech should be working harder on improving accessibility. I wonder if Apple employs anyone specialised in this field. They certainly should. Solving accessibility issues would likely provide benefits for all; your examples demonstrate that. For me, this sounds like a very interesting area of development.

    Thanks for speaking up for your friend. I, for one, am with you and Michael.
     
  3. GeoSciGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #3
    Thank you for your support!

    Apple does have people working on accessibility and they've done much more than Android.

    Apple has been rewarded a Helen Keller Achievement Award by the American Foundation for the Blind for their VoiceOver feature.

    http://iphone.appleinsider.com/arti...-award-from-american-foundation-for-the-blind

    The problem is, my friend is more than just blind. He is physically challenged. His motor skills are very poor. I've mentioned this in the letter as to why the VoiceOver feature is not suitable for him.

    One thing I didn't mention: he never holds the phone up to his ear. He keeps his phone permanently on speaker phone mode.

    I know Apple cares about accessibility, which is why I'm reaching out to them. I listed additional examples of how this can be used to further encourage Apple to add this feature to Siri ASAP. My friend Michael is a very special case. The accessibility features they have now probably work fine for the vast majority of blind people with iPhones. What is the likelihood of Apple allocating resources to add a feature that only helps my friend and the few others like him? Maybe they would to obtain more bragging rights in the field of accessibility or maybe there's too few people like my friend to develop that feature.

    When demonstrating a new feature at a keynote, it's important that the majority of the audience can relate to the scenario. I can imagine Apple creating a video using the raw chicken example. Someone is chopping up raw chicken on the cutting board and their phone is on the other side of the counter. The phone rings and the person says "Answer". The phone immediately goes to speaker, allowing the person to continue cutting chicken while having a conversation over the phone. It could be any food, really, not just chicken. Maybe an assortment of vegetables for a salad or stir fry to appeal to everyone including the vegan journalists in the audience.
     
  4. Tech198 macrumors G5

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    #4
    I'm not sure if voice assistants are up to the task of this just yet.. when they still need to know more about everything else, and understand everything and not need a keyboard for.

    When you can talk to your phone 100% and need zero need to touch the screen at all, then it will be ready for other stuff. But at the moment, its still a mixed-bag. Although Apple has the best of this so far. at least with visual stuff,,, not so much with AI yet, but that'll should be coming soon as well
     
  5. GeoSciGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #5
    Voice assistants should be up to the task of answering the phone. It's called a smartphone and yet the non-phone related portion of the device gets all the AI? Might as well call it a hybrid between a pocket computer and a dumb phone.

    This implementation does not require gobs of AI. All the phone would have to do is listen to you say the word "answer" multiple times so it can recognize your voice for that one word. That can be stored locally, as it would be a relatively small amount of data. This would allow you to command the phone to answer while not connected to Wi-Fi / 4G.

    ( Unfortunately, Siri still requires the cloud for offline commands. I would personally prefer Siri to be stored locally, so we could ask it to play music we own while in a no service zone, as would many others. )

    The technology I'm asking to be implemented already exists, as it was used in a film released in 2013. I doubt this technology was a false illusion created just for this one B list movie.
     
  6. Tech198 macrumors G5

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    #6
    Make two separate parts for Siri, one for local use only, and the other requiring internet use when it needs it. Much like how Spotlight works, where local stuff is indexed only.. This would include all downloaded apps as well..

    As you add/delete, the index is updated to remove it from Siri as well.

    But seems Apple prefers to have it all in the cloud, so it can update any time and not have to worry to much about updates to the device to fix things.
     
  7. GeoSciGuy, Oct 21, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017

    GeoSciGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #7
    Yes. This is what a lot of people want from Siri. Voice Control came before Siri, was completely offline, and performed tasks like playing music from your library and calling people from your contacts. Siri added a lot of functionality, but the internet connection requirement reduced convenience in areas with no Wi-Fi and no signal.

    I believe Apple could still link everything back to their cloud network if they allowed for the temporary storage of user history on the users phone for those offline-capable tasks when outside of a network. Once reconnected, the history log is uploaded to Apple and removed from the phone's memory. This way, Apple can continue to monitor Siri's performance of tasks, upgrade security issues, and study trends such as questions that people always ask that Siri can't do yet (so they can add that feature later). At the same time, we would be able to use Siri in more senarios.

    That just gave me another idea! Let's say you are lost in the woods and need to find help. You could ask Siri to "Call 911 once there is cell signal". It will immediately call once there is signal, and even if you have signal for just a split second, Siri could call 911 in that split second, giving police an idea of your location. Much faster than you having to swipe into your phone, taking seconds longer, and potentially losing that cell signal.

    The possibilities of AI are endless and we are just now scratching the surface! I hope we get to a point where we can go screen-free and 100% virtual assistant, as you mentioned, in the near future. That is exactly what my friend needs: A pocket HomePod phone instead of a pocket iPad phone.
     
  8. simonmet, Mar 26, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018

    simonmet macrumors 68020

    simonmet

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    #8
    Have you had any update on this? Your original request had never occurred to me but in hindsight it seems so obvious and easy to implement, and as you say has potential uses not just for the vision-impaired — not that this should be necessary.

    I too remember Voice Over and how it worked offline, but it sounds like online status isn’t the biggest issue in this case.

    That Siri can’t be used to answer a call on a smartphone is perhaps its biggest failing I’ve heard yet. If I was Craig, I’d have ordered it be implemented ASAP, assuming he has authority over the Siri team.

    If it hasn’t happened there must be significant structural or technical problems with Siri precluding its development and/or significant structural and/or personal problems and conflicts within Apple.

    You put forward a very clear and strong case and clearly put a lot of effort in to the letter. I’d be very disappointed for you and Michael if nothing has been actioned on this. Perhaps you can go even higher and email the same request to Tim Cook.
     
  9. Clix Pix, Mar 26, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018

    Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #9
    Whoa.....while you and your friend might be thrilled with a "pocket HomePod phone," what about those who NEED to be able to see a screen, to be able to read text on it, and who cannot speak to Siri to ask her something or give her instructions? Current iPhones or iPads can work for them right now, just as they can for the visually-impaired. I seriously doubt that Apple would ever implement something such as you suggest. What would benefit your friend is one thing, but others may need something entirely different. Ideally, Apple can continue to provide something that works for the greatest number of people, whether they are "typical," (i.e, unaffected by any disability), or hearing-impaired or visually-impaired.

    Unfortunately for your friend, he falls into a different category, having multiple disabilities. Apple has been effective so far in serving the visually-impaired community (I know several people who have and love their iPhones). and in providing for the hearing-impaired community as well. iPhones and iPads already can effectively meet the very different needs of both groups of people. Apple continues to strive to implement resources for the greatest number of people they can -- not an easy challenge! -- but unfortunately there will always be those who fall between the cracks and who are not going to be able to benefit in quite the same ways as others. Maybe one day Apple or some other company can and will come up with some creative solutions which will work for him and others in his situation, which would be great, as long as they are in addition to, rather than replacing, other technologies and software which serve the majority of users.
     
  10. GeoSciGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #10
    Thank you for your concern!

    Unfortunately, there has been no update on this.

    I could attempt to send this letter verbatim or updated to Tim Cook, but I feel like it would just be one of the many thousands of emails he recieves daily. Tim has even greater responsibilities than Craig. I even sent an email to Arnold Kim, asking if he could post my letter on the front page as a news story to help address this issue and got no response.

    Instead of trying to get the attention of one or two very important, very busy people, I want to get the attention of hundreds or thousands of Apple followers, be they fans, investors, tech geeks, or journalists. With enough social media attention, which hopefully leads to being in the media spotlight, I will then gain the attention of Tim Cook and Craig Federighi.

    I was hoping this thread was going to blow up when I first created it. I was saddened when it didn’t, but was greatful for the few people who commented. I even linked this thread to r/apple and r/iphone on Reddit, which didn’t help it gain traction.

    I was inspired by the fact that this post was the top most similar thread to the news of Craig Federighi’s privacy comments. I deleted the posts I made on Reddit linking to this thread and created new ones by posting the letter directly to Reddit. The r/apple post won’t gain views for some reason, but the r/iphone post has been gaining a lot of up votes. Only one person has commented other than me, but he informed me of a very useful feature I was previously unaware of, where the phone can auto answer after certain number of seconds set by the user.

    Regardless, I still want to see my request implemented. A voice file of a user saying “answer” three or ten times should occupy very little space on an iPhone. That file can then be used to voice match and cross-reference that it is the phone owner answering the phone with the “answer” command. There is no reason Siri can’t do this.

    If you’d really like to help, you can spread the word and lead others to this thread to read my letter and comment. I’ve put a lot of effort in trying to reach out and haven’t gotten the returns on invested time I would have liked. If this thread becomes too big to ignore, maybe that will change.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 27, 2018 ---
    Obviously, a pocket HomePod phone would not be in enough demand to be mass produced, as most people need screens. It’s more of an analogy of what my friend needs. Every aspect about the phone feature should be able to be induced by either voice or touch.

    It could be:

    *Ring* “Answer”

    or:

    “Siri, add new contact”
    *”Who would you like this new contact to be?”*
    “John Doe”
    *“What is John Doe’s phone number?”*
    “Four Oh Eight, Five Five Five, Six Seven Eight Nine”
    *“New contact for John Doe with phone number (408) 555-6789. Is this number correct?”*
    “Yes”
    *New contact for John Doe was created*

    Like you, I want these features added to the iPhone without taking away any other features.
     
  11. simonmet macrumors 68020

    simonmet

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    Sydney
    #11
    I don’t use it myself, but some companies seem to respond to “Twitter shaming”. Apple Support has a Twitter account so you could try there. I wouldn’t rule out any avenue at this point. You just have to keep throwing **** and hopefully eventually some will stick.

    This probably isn’t much help either, but does Michael ever try to replicate the “swipe to answer” gesture even though he can’t see it? This would be made even harder though on iPhone X that lacks a home buttom.
     
  12. GeoSciGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    GeoSciGuy

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    #12
    I don’t use Twitter as of right now, but that is a good idea.

    He has answered the phone by himself but that is usually by happenstance. He usually needs someone else to help him answer it. What happens more often is that he’ll accidentally tap the “speaker phone” off or hang up. The phone automatically answers on speaker phone because he is not coordinated enough to put the phone right side up against his ear. He likes to be able to hold the phone in front of his face while it is on speaker. It’s sometimes hard to keep his fingers from tapping the screen.
     

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11 October 17, 2017