Siri's Multiple Language Support Still Its Biggest Strength Over Other Virtual Assistants

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Reuters published an article on Thursday that reveals some of the painstaking work that goes into making Siri capable of speaking additional languages, which remains one of its biggest strengths over rival virtual assistants.

    The behind-the-scenes look appears amid claims that Apple has squandered its lead in the voice-assistant space, with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all advancing the features of their respective assistants recently.

    But for a smartphone market in which most sales are outside the U.S., Siri's big advantage over the other assistants is underlined in the number of languages it can speak. Microsoft is said to have an editorial team of 29 people who work to customize Cortana for local markets, while Google and Amazon say they plan to add more languages soon. But it's a game of catch-up: Apple already has 21 languages, localized for 36 countries. That compares favorably to Microsoft's Cortana (eight), Google Assistant (four), and Amazon's Alexa (two).
    Once the required amount of data has been gathered and a voice actor has recorded the Siri responses in a new language, Siri is released with answers to what Apple believes will be the most common questions. Siri then learns more about what users ask, with additional tweaks made via updates every two weeks.

    The drawback to Apple's script-writing approach is that it does not scale, according to Charles Jolley, creator of an intelligent assistant named Oslo. "You can't hire enough writers to come up with the system you'd need in every language. You have to synthesize the answers," he told Reuters. "That's years off."

    But it's something the founders of Viv - Siri's original creators - are actively working on. "Viv was built to specifically address the scaling issue for intelligent assistants," said Dag Kittlaus, the CEO and co-founder of Viv, which was acquired by Samsung last year. "The only way to leapfrog today's limited functionality versions is to open the system up and let the world teach them."

    Consumers should soon get a taste of how far they've come. Viv technology will power Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant, set to feature in the Galaxy S8, which launches at the end of this month.

    Article Link: Siri's Multiple Language Support Still Its Biggest Strength Over Other Virtual Assistants
  2. Nozuka macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2012
  3. allenvanhellen macrumors regular

    Dec 8, 2015
    I want to be able to speak in multiple languages in the same sentence. This is necessary for asking Siri to send a text message -- maybe in a foreign language -- to friends with foreign names, or to ask for directions in a foreign country.
  4. KeyMs92 macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2015
    I salute the fact that Siri is available in so many languages, but Dutch Siri still sucks at English titles. As a result, I'm forced to set it to English just to play songs via Apple Music.

    I wish I could set Siri to multiple languages. :/
  5. Galatian macrumors 6502


    Dec 20, 2010
    That's why when I totally naturally task Siri to "Weck mich um neun" (wake me up at nine) it will ask me in return "Welchen Weg möchtest du gehen?" (Which way do you want to go?)

    Siri is pisspoor in German imho. You have to very presicely use keywords in order for Siri to recognize what you what. Speak naturally to it my ass.
  6. jmh600cbr macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2012
  7. mdellepi macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2015
    This is the main limitation at the moment. It makes almost impossible to use Siri to control Apple Music, when you have a mostly English music library, for example. Or, as you say, for directions...I live in Germany, I use Siri in Italian and it is completely useless if you need to ask for a street.
    For the rest, at least in Italian, language recognition works extremely well.
  8. BaldeMadara macrumors newbie


    Feb 28, 2016
    Siri is one of the best things that happened to the iPhone. Through the years it's become my daily companion. I mostly use it to make phone calls, send messages, make quick social media posts, and get latest sports results. So farI've used it in two languages: English and French; and the experience is pretty similar.
  9. jhfenton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    This is my biggest annoyance. I have an iTunes catalog full of English and French music. One or the other is always inaccessible via Siri ("Hey Siri, play Corbeau by Coeur de Pirate." --> "Play Corbo by good to be hot." --> "I'm sorry, I can't find Corbo in your music.")

    Likewise, if I run Siri in French, I cannot text my wife in English (or Spanish) while I'm driving.
  10. slammer0 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    And still 40 million of Polish speakers are waiting for Siri for like 6 years now? I know this is the most difficult lanuage of the world but hey, Apple, are you not good enough to do this?
  11. thasan macrumors 65816

    Oct 19, 2007
    Improves every two weeks?
    I only use four / five commands to Siri.
    And apart from setting alarm, it usually makes silly mistakes in interpreting what I am asking for even though I have been repeating the same requests for the past 2 year!
  12. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    So, Siri can use many different languages to refer the user to the internet for answers to simple questions/requests.

    This gets so annoying. I once thought Siri was a great feature that would only get better. Now it seems Siri hardly evolved over the years, and just make me frustrated with my iPhone.

    And, if you have only a bar of service, then it hardly works, but takes about 30 seconds to let you know it has a problem and try again later.

    Maybe it will get better.
  13. Jnesbitt82 macrumors 6502


    Oct 21, 2013
    The problem is, Siri isn't as capable as some of its competitors. In that regard, Siri has less to do. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Siri is able to master more languages over the fewer task that it can do. Hopefully, all of the R&D Apple has been doing and investing in these past few months will help Siri become what it was intended to be all along.
  14. JosephAW macrumors 68020


    May 14, 2012
    There should be an opt-out button for Apple capturing audio for dictation. That's why I never use dictation to unlock passwords. I assume they (Apple and others) are always listening.
  15. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    I was actually excited to see what Viv would bring to the table. Too bad it was purchased by Samsung to power Bixby. Figuratively, no one will ever use it. Just like no one uses S-Voice. If the Viv guys had to sell, I wish they would have sold to MS, Google, or Amazon. At least the tech could reach a larger audience.
  16. star_nerdy macrumors member

    Feb 6, 2017
    I speak Spanish and English and Siri sucks at understanding multiple languages.

    Sure, maybe it can do just Spanish or just English. But I mostly speak English, but I so often want music in Spanish. Forget groups like Calle 13 or artists like Juanes, Siri can't even figure out Shakira.

    Siri is ok, but it's not great. I've given up on it so many times I've lost count.
  17. hanser macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2013

    I just checked this with exaktly the same sentence. Siri understood perfectly and answered: Ein Wecker wurde für neun Uhr gestellt. So this is not a general problem with Siri, but depends on the pronouncation of the user, I think.
  18. PhiLLoW macrumors 6502

    May 31, 2014
    Which language? German Siri sucks. You have to pronounce artists and apps really weird so Siri understands what you're talking about.
  19. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Well, it's good that Siri can be useless in other languages too I guess.
  20. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    Same. I guess language auto-detection is not so easy, especially with artists and street names.

    And, yes, Italian recognition is excellent.
  21. freediverx macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2006

    This is a problem right here in the US, with Siri set to English. The US has many towns, street names, and businesses with non-English origins, and Siri is completely useless when these are involved.

    For example, there's a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida named "Aventura" which features one of the largest and most popular shopping malls in the area, "Aventura Mall". Go ahead, fire up Siri and try your hardest to get it to understand that name. No matter how you pronounce it, Siri will never understand, even if you add it to your Contacts and enter phonetic spellings for the name.
  22. Scottsoapbox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2014
  23. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    So, what we're saying is Siri may be a multilingual idiot, but at least she's multilingual.
  24. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Polyglot Not amirite?:D
  25. jhfenton macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Not really. The problem is that Siri is serially monolingual.

    I actually think Siri is pretty good at straight-up speech recognition. I've tested English and French a lot, Spanish a little, and Russian and Mandarin a few times. It does well.

    But it can't mix languages. And the back-end capabilities are limited.

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