Why is Siri so awful?

Discussion in 'iOS 11' started by pgoelz, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. pgoelz macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    #1
    Serious question. I'm new to iOS. I came from the Android world. I was curious about iOS and got tired of the way Google discontinues support for phones that are still perfectly functional so I bought an iPhone SE when Best Buy had them for an irresistible $149. For the most part, iOS has been fine. But Siri....... compared to Google Search, Siri is just plain awful. That was a big surprise.

    Some of the time, the words that Siri recognizes are very wrong. The other day, I uttered a simple six word search phrase and Siri got every single word wrong.... and not just incorrect..... totally and spectacularly wrong. Like the words recognized didn't bear any resemblance to what I said. I said the exact same phrase again and Siri got it 100 right. This was at a normal speaking volume in a quiet environment about three inches from the mic.

    But even when Siri actually gets my words correct, she rarely produces useful search results. As an example, the search phrase from the paragraph above was "spektrum transmitter vibrator throttle shut off" (I was looking for information about an issue with my RC transmitter). Siri returned five hits, all for sex shops. It was like she keyed on the word "vibrator" and ignored everything else. I gave up on Siri and entered that same phrase into Chrome and Google returned quite a few hits, all of which were on RC forums and all of which relevant.

    And as I was writing this post, I decided to try again. But I inadvertently reversed two of the words.... instead of "spektrum transmitter vibrator throttle shut off", I said "spektrum vibrator transmitter throttle shut off". And to my surprise, Siri returned some relevant hits. So I tried it several times, flipping the words "transmitter" and "vibrator". Sometimes she would return relevant hits and sometimes she would return sex shops. And several times she said "I don't know what you mean by spektrum transmitter vibrator throttle shut off". It seemed to be kind of random whether she would return hits or not.

    So am I missing something? Siri kind of invented the personal digital assistant thing so why does she seem to be so useless in the real world? She should be pretty mature by now. Am I holding her wrong? If so, she hasn't complained. And once she even asked if I could live without her.

    Paul
     
  2. pgoelz, Dec 9, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017

    pgoelz thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thanks, but I was not looking for the user manual for a DX18. I was looking for information about a rather old and esoteric hardware issue that affected early DX8s (as I recall). Which I found by searching for the same phrase using Google Search.

    The issue here is.... why was Siri so spectacularly unable to find that information. I'm assuming the answer is that Siri uses an Apple-maintained search database that is far less intelligent (or comprehensive?) than Google. I was just surprised at how poorly Siri has done each time I have tried using her.

    Paul
     
  3. achappy macrumors member

    achappy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2017
    #4
    The short answer is Google has significantly more data. Emails, Google searches, photos, etc. Apple's philosophy is to maintain privacy as much as possible, so often Siri doesn't have the additional context that's required to be able to accurately determine what exactly you are asking for.

    Siri is very narrow in what it can do. Reminders, timers, calendars, sending messages, etc it's really good. But given the limited data it's using, it will not be able to understand context. I'm sure somewhere in your Google history you've searched something about transmitters. Google uses that information. Siri doesn't.
     
  4. pgoelz thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2017
    #5
    Thanks for that explanation. Kinda what I suspected after thinking about it for a while.

    My solution has been to install the Google Assistant and use that for searches instead of Siri. Too bad it can't be integrated into a home button long press like Siri.....

    Paul
     
  5. Puonti, Dec 9, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017

    Puonti macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 14, 2011
    #6
    When you do a search through Siri you’ll notice that at the end of the list of results it states “Show Google Results”. The results Siri is getting are coming from Google. They used to come from Bing until recently:

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/25/a...b-search-results-on-ios-and-spotlight-on-mac/

    This happens even if you’ve picked some other search engine for Safari - you can’t control it.

    The thing about Google is that their excellent search results depend in part on understanding who you are; your past searches, the sites you visit, the music you listen to, the videos you watch on Youtube and so forth. When Google knows it’s you making a search, they tweak the results to fit your profile.

    This is relevant because Siri is not making a search as “you”, as far as Google is concerned. It asks Google for search results without revealing who you are, so Google can only use its generic algorithms to surface results. You’re seeing them in action when you change word order - different things get prioritized by whatever criteria Google has set in place.

    If you are logged in to Google in iOS’s Safari and you tap the “Show Google Results” link you might see different results in the browser because in addition to the search string that’s passed to Google it now sees who you are.

    Edit: ninja’d!
     
  6. pgoelz thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2017
    #7
    I had not noticed that until you pointed it out. Trouble is that after playing around with Siri, I find that the “Show Google Results” is not always present. After some head scratching, I realized that Siri seems to be predisposed to return physical locations vs. web sites. When this happens, there is no “Show Google Results” link in the search results. Still working on how to convince Siri that I am NOT searching for locations.

    Ah, turns out it is pretty simple (I think)...... just prepend the word "google" to any search phrase that I have so far tried and Siri searches the web as expected (complete with the “Show Google Results” link at the bottom). That I can live with.

    Paul
     
  7. simonmet macrumors 68000

    simonmet

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    Sydney
    #8
    Glad you found a workaround. Siri has been widely criticised even by Apple users, as you’ll discover if you follow this forum. It hasn’t really developed a whole lot since it was launched. Apple seems to have acknowledged some of its weaknesses.

    Having said that, some of the privacy-related limitations do make sense and I support maximum possible privacy and least possible tracking moving forward. It’s probably harder to code meaning and context without as much user-specific information.
     
  8. macfacts macrumors 68030

    macfacts

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    Location:
    Cybertron
    #9
    In Safari, start a private browsing mode and a Google search will still give better search results than Siri still. Google is just plain better than Apple at search. Apple knows this, that is why HomePod is delayed.
     
  9. pgoelz thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2017
    #10
    An interesting discussion. I wonder if using Siri, clicking on “Show Google Results” (which then opens in Safari) and then clicking one of those Google search links strips off any unique user identity vs. doing a direct Google search from my PC (using Chrome).

    Paul
    --- Post Merged, Dec 10, 2017 ---
    Is that in effect what happens if you click the “Show Google Results” link in a Siri search?

    Paul
     
  10. MatteoV macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2017
    #11
    What @achappy said is interesting also for me. I believe Siri has great potential, but it would be silly if Apple tried to compete with Google about AI of their respective vocal assistants. Having regard to Siri's artificial intelligence limits in the real world also due to comprehension problems related to user's pronunciation, It would be more useful, IMHO, if iOS allowed the user to record some frequent actions with specific user's words in a programmable way.

    For example if I need to search something in Google, to open the link of the first result of the research, to read the content of the opened web page and, at the end of the reading, to close the web page to return at maps view (for example, if Maps was the previous opened app), I'd really like if Siri could perform all these tasks programmed by me in a specific Siri programming app created by Apple (for example using the existent Workflow app with a full Siri implementation) using only my voice like "Ehi, Siri" (to wake up Siri) + "read news".

    With two words "read news" associated with a specific sequence of tasks/operations recorded by the user, Siri could give the wante answer much more often than using the common way (that is: saying to Siri the full phrase in english or other language).
    Obviously this means having to record before the operations/tasks and associate them with some user's words, so it's not good for improvised requests. But for all the other kind of tasks that user frequently requires using Siri, a programmable environment that links iPhone settings/actions and user's words database with Siri would be a great help to her, IMHO.

    Cheers
     
  11. pgoelz thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2017
    #12
    In the mean time, I discovered that if I say "GOOGLE SEARCH", Siri asks me what I want to search for and then searches the web (including the "show google results" link at the end of the results). While this is a two step process it is reasonably direct and easy to remember and makes Siri a lot more useful.

    I want to thank everyone who contributed to this thread in a reasoned and positive manner.

    Paul
     
  12. xx22, Dec 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  13. R3k macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    She doesn't get my Australia come US accent most of the time. Google no problem, from halfway around the house. Forget dictating a text.
     
  14. Cmd-Z macrumors 6502

    Cmd-Z

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    #16
    Well, if you normally use odd syntax like that it's no wonder! :rolleyes:
     
  15. cynics, Jun 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018

    cynics macrumors G4

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    Jan 8, 2012
    #17
    The iPhone SE while still relevant and fully functional is using 2 year old hardware which is based on a 5 1/2 year old design. Don’t expect the microphones to stack up to newer Android phone especially those that compete against the iPhone. I used to make a lot of voice memos, transferred to a computer I can tell the difference between model years.

    Also I find the harder I try to annunciate and pronounce a word the worse Siri gets. Annoying af because at that point I’m already frustrated.

    Software, plain and simple Google searches can’t be competed with. Siri will try to use it’s own data which doesn’t include a search engine. So vibrator caused it to include a sex shop.

    From now on consider the request your about to ask and say “hey Siri perform a google search for .........”. This way you’ll skip the non sense of locations, automations etc etc etc. This is useful for everything btw. “wolfram alpha the distance to mars”, “wiki search audio frequency”, “search email for John Smith”, “search messages for John Smith” etc. Narrowing down the request will help immensely.

    Apple also has a strong stance on privacy. And while Google isn’t abusing your privacy (that I’m aware of anyway) Siri can never be completely on par due to that inherent limitation.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 22, 2018 ---
    That result is hilarious but your question is loaded because it can’t be answered in the way you asked.

    “How long ago was...” implies that you are asking for the end date/time. Since we are currently living in an ice age that began over 2 million years ago Siri can’t tell you when it ended.

    Also, which ice age? Obviously not the current but there are a few options.

    A better question....

    8E05A160-2B1E-4314-A915-AB6F43576373.png

    Admittedly though Siri will be useless for you to investigate further. First Ice Age is a movie so it’s hard to get Siri to avoid it without specifics. Plus I seriously doubt she will get words like Andean Surharan, cryogenian, quaternary, etc right do to their low frequency use versus similar sounding words.
     
  16. mpavilion, Jun 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018

    mpavilion macrumors 6502a

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    SFV, CA, USA
    #18
    Nah, that’s weak... It understood me perfectly (even capitalized “Ice Age”), and gave a nonsensical / unrelated answer. I followed up w/the Google app (same question) and it handled it just fine:

    3C695C44-B18B-4DD4-B839-B410F54D18E2.png
    --- Post Merged, Jun 22, 2018 ---
    Btw – even though I’m now 11 hrs. removed from the original situation (my son asking, from the back seat of the car, how long ago the Ice Age was), I just posed the same question to the Echo Dot in our kitchen. Alexa nailed it perfectly (“The Ice Ages were long periods of lower temperatures on Earth beginning around 2,400,000 years ago and lasting until 11,500 years ago”).
     
  17. cynics macrumors G4

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    Jan 8, 2012
    #19
    That is commonly used but informal. The Pleistocene epoch was a glacial period (hence epoch) of an ice age, although many refer to the glacial period as "the ice age" the definition of the interglacial period is also part of an ice age. Both the Pleistocene epoch and Holocene epoch (current) are periods of the Quaternary Ice Age (what we are living in now).

    Google and Amazon often spit out random generic answers at you. For example ask them the distance from the Earch to the moon. They will give you the mean, Siri (using Wolfram Alpha) will give you the actual answer.
     
  18. mpavilion macrumors 6502a

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    SFV, CA, USA
    #20
    It was good enough to answer my kid. Apple told me about ICE.
     
  19. TimmeyCook Suspended

    TimmeyCook

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    Jun 20, 2018
    #21
    [​IMG]

    Not in my experience.

    Frankly, Google Assistant sucks, don't know what's this is all about, just because Google has everyone thinking they are better in "AI stuff", doesn't mean they are. They give a lot of just wrong answers too, which is unacceptable.
     
  20. avtella macrumors regular

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    Nov 11, 2016
    #22
    Google may not be perfect but most tests and reviews have shown it’s generally far a head of Siri. It did say “face” for your answer, so it did do what you asked though it didn’t see your question as a continuation of a conversation.
     
  21. TimmeyCook Suspended

    TimmeyCook

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    Jun 20, 2018
    #23
    Google Assistant is a joke!

    That's BS because those "tests" and "comparisons" are always made by Android fanboys like MKBHD, and Google/Samsung "sponsored" YouTube stars.

    In real life, Google Assistant is BS and far behind Siri.

    There's no SiriKit for Google Assistant, you can't order an Uber through Google Assistant, for example.

    There's no Siri Shortcuts for Google Assistant.

    There's no HomeKit for Google Assistant.

    So what's Google Assistant good for?

    Google Assistant is just a crappy product designed to justify Google's data mining of users and it is lame.

    You'll never see Siri saying this:

    https://twitter.com/ruskin147/status/838445095410106368
     
  22. avtella, Jun 24, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018

    avtella macrumors regular

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    #24
    Umm k so just because people don’t agree (not just “YouTube stars” but numerous in depth articles that talk about strengths and weaknesses of each assistant) with you they are fanboys and what you don’t like or doesn’t work in your specific use case is useless. Got it. Sounds pretty fanboyish, hippocritical and childish in turn.

    As I said Google Assistant isn’t perfect. Siri is improving as well. I pretty much use Siri most of the time with my iPhone 8+ but in my experience and use cases, however when using my alt phone, a Nexus 5X assistant has usually been much better at least for flight status, answering questions and differentiating names when asking for a call especially non English names and more accurate when dictating messages. Siri is not awful though, in my opinion it’s improved a lot.

    These sound fairly neutral, Siri and Google have their own strengths.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/applei...mpared-siri-vs-alexa-vs-google-assistant/amp/

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/20/siri-vs-google-assistant-on-iphone.html
     
  23. TimmeyCook Suspended

    TimmeyCook

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    Jun 20, 2018
    #25
    It's not people that I don't agree, it's people that are liars.

    You are protecting people that are liars, and I'm the fanboy?

    Nice...

    You are presenting biased tests as proof...

    [​IMG]

    Who owns YouTube?
     

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