Why Apple's Siri needs to become an 'ambient' ecosystem to compete against Amazon & Google...

Posted:
in General Discussion
The HomePod -- now due in 2018 -- will mark Apple's first real attempt at making Siri an "ambient" voice assistant. Arguably, though, the company needs to push a lot harder if it wants people to choose Siri over alternatives from Amazon and Google.




As a new homeowner, the number of smarthome devices I own has grown considerably in a matter of months. Whenever possible of course I've picked up something HomeKit-compatible, not just for the sake of AppleInsider, but for easier automation -- including integration between devices from different vendors.

A problem that's often overlooked however is controlling devices on the fly. Sure, automation is wonderful and many people carry their iPhones with them all the time, but sometimes you just want to flip on the lights without reaching into your pocket -- and what happens when guests and others need to do the same but don't have HomeKit permissions?

Plenty of companies are willing to sell you buttons, switches, sensors, and remotes, but those costs can build up quickly, especially if you've already dropped several hundred dollars (or more) on the accessories you're planning to control.

I've come to realize just how much more useful an ambient Siri could be thanks to growing dependence on my Apple Watch. Instead of fishing for my iPhone or iPad, I can just raise my wrist wherever I am and speak -- I can even whisper to avoid waking people up. It makes changing up the office and living room lights a whole lot easier.




The HomePod will probably require to you speak louder than a whisper, but otherwise promises to make whole rooms permanently Siri-enabled, regardless of who's speaking or what gadgets they're carrying.

The difficulty here is that it won't be practical for most people to fully equip a house. At $349 apiece, it'll be hard for families to justify buying more than one or two HomePods, especially when the main purpose is Siri and not high-end audio.

For that reason, Amazon and Google are set to control the smartspeaker market for a while longer. They may not have HomeKit, or even great audio in many cases, but they support enough services and smarthome standards that pricing will give them the upper hand. Consider that you can get six Echo Dots for around $250 or less -- and hook them up to existing speakers when sound quality matters.

Apple could choose to produce cheap Dot-like speakers as a solution, but that would be opposed to the company's "premium" sales and design philosophy. So what could it do?




A simple option might be adding Siri to Beats speakers like the Pill+. At $180, it is certainly more palatable than $349, and it's portable to boot.

A better one might be establishing some sort of MFi-style certification that finally puts Siri directly on third-party hardware, not just through AirPlay 2. For whatever reason Apple has resisted this, even as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have found their way onto more devices -- further entrenching themselves in a way Apple could find hard to reverse.

The more prevalent a voice assistant becomes, the more likely people are to use it. Developers want to focus support on the most popular platforms, which feeds into a loop thanks to customers picking the best-supported hardware. People also want to know that the same commands will work throughout their home, so if they've already bought an Echo, they're probably not going to mix-and-match smartspeakers.

Apple could respond to this pressure. I imagine, though, that this will largely depend on how well the HomePod does -- I guess we'll find out next year.
kuduRayz2016
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    andrewj5790jahbladekuduTomEanantksundaramcornchippatchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 59
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    racerhomie3macplusplusStrangeDaysmagman1979mdriftmeyerkudumacxpresscornchipgaryg_69baconstang
  • Reply 3 of 59
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    I doubt it. I'm sure they built the building to do nothing but sit around while they wait for their cash reserves to be depleted.... /s
    applesnorangescornchipmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 59
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,981member
    Oh look! Another pundit telling Apple it must go after the low end market to survive and compete. It’s all about going cheap isn’t it. Cheaper is better by definition, right? So along with a $150 iPhone, a $149 iPad, a $399 Mac with slots, now Apple must come up with a $180 digital assistant to compete with the Echo Dot, a $30 gadget. I’m truly sorry to be responding with extreme sarcasm but we’ve been listening to this go cheap drumbeat every tine a new product category becomes popular. Apple can’t survive without eventually going cheap.

    1. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of PCs.

    2. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of smartphones.

    3. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of tablets.

    4. Apple does not have the largest music and video streaming service.

    5. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of digital assistants.

    Yet Apple has managed to amass a $250 Billion pile of cash, and Apple has managed to rise to a market capitalization of around $900 Billion, all without competing at the low end of any of the markets it is in. And it did this by sticking to its principles of making high quality products that people love to use. So tell me again why Apple must go low to survive?
    metrixracoleman29racerhomie3jahbladeapplesnorangesmacplusplusmacseekerStrangeDaysmagman1979mdriftmeyer
  • Reply 5 of 59
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 1,993member
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    "Siri is consistently terrible." Yep. The only place I use it is on CarPlay, and then only for simple things: directions, read/dictate/send text, dial a call. 

    Maybe it is because Apple had to design Siri to stop working to conserve battery or something. 
    racerhomie3kkqd1337anantksundaram
  • Reply 6 of 59
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,981member


    The more prevalent a voice assistant becomes, the more likely people are to use it. Developers want to focus support on the most popular platforms, which feeds into a loop thanks to customers picking the best-supported hardware. People also want to know that the same commands will work throughout their home, so if they've already bought an Echo, they're probably not going to mix-and-match smartspeakers.
    This paragraph is a hoot. It’s just a rehash of the tired argument that developers will flock to the most popular platform. We already know that’s a pile of crap argument because developers have already flocked to the platform that makes them the most money... iOS. 
    racerhomie3applesnorangestmaymacplusplusStrangeDaysmagman1979watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 59
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,981member

    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Stop with the trolling about Siri. You have no clue about Siri or its capabilities.
    racerhomie3tmaymagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 59
    lkrupp said:

    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Stop with the trolling about Siri. You have no clue about Siri or its capabilities.
    That's exactly how Apple VP's take sound criticism ("bad week"- Pavlov reaction)
    How Ballmerized can you be.
    edited December 2017 vonbrickcornchippatchythepirate
  • Reply 9 of 59
    genovelle said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    I'm happy that Siri does exactly what you want but would be interested to know who appointed you as the spokesperson for the millions of others?  Even the most casual bit of review research puts the voice assistants from Amazon & particularly Google way way out in front of Siri.  It won't be too long though and all voice assistant software will be on a par with each other.  It is where the query is sent that makes the difference to the 'quality' and 'intelligence' of the answer that gets returned.  It is hard to comprehend anyone being able to compete in the 'intelligence' space given the sheer extent of the data repository that Google have scraped over the years.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 10 of 59
    croprcropr Posts: 767member
    genovelle said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    Good for you and these millions.

    But as a Dutch speaking Belgian, I can say that Srii in Dutch is useless, because it is does not understand 80% of what I am saying.  Using Siri in English is much better in recognizing what I am saying, but Siri in English does not understand any Dutch or French names, which  is quite painful for navigation and  contact related apps.  Asking Siri in English to play a song with a English title works fine, but that's about it.  Very poor of Apple.

    And by the way, Google Now on an iPhone does a much better job in understanding my Dutch, so it can't be that difficult.
    edited December 2017 kuducecil444anantksundarampatchythepiratejony0
  • Reply 11 of 59
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 842member
    I’m not sure about Siri on other hardware.  The only way I can see them agreeing is to create an Sx processor for third parties to integrate and that’ll push the price up hugely.  I wish they’d do this for TV manufacturers too.
  • Reply 12 of 59
    Siri needs to get better. Hopefully it is getting better.Personally I love Siri.It feels like Alexa is a propaganda outlet for leftist values.Siri is more Wikipedia article based.I like that about Siri.

    But no , the smart speaker market is a lie.
    There is no large smart speaker market.Apple watch sells much more than all smartspeakers.The media are BSing Amazon & Microsoft  Surface as if they are successful, while the Apple Watch is a flop.


    AirPlay 2 & Siri are the only things Apple needs to focus on right now. AirPlay on Apple’s AirPort Express is still my favorite feature on a router.
    macplusplusmonstrositycornchipbaconstangpatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 59
    lkrupp said:
    Oh look! Another pundit telling Apple it must go after the low end market to survive and compete. It’s all about going cheap isn’t it. Cheaper is better by definition, right? So along with a $150 iPhone, a $149 iPad, a $399 Mac with slots, now Apple must come up with a $180 digital assistant to compete with the Echo Dot, a $30 gadget. I’m truly sorry to be responding with extreme sarcasm but we’ve been listening to this go cheap drumbeat every tine a new product category becomes popular. Apple can’t survive without eventually going cheap.

    1. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of PCs.

    2. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of smartphones.

    3. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of tablets.

    4. Apple does not have the largest music and video streaming service.

    5. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of digital assistants.

    Yet Apple has managed to amass a $250 Billion pile of cash, and Apple has managed to rise to a market capitalization of around $900 Billion, all without competing at the low end of any of the markets it is in. And it did this by sticking to its principles of making high quality products that people love to use. So tell me again why Apple must go low to survive?
    Well said !!!
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 59
    lkrupp said:
    Oh look! Another pundit telling Apple it must go after the low end market to survive and compete. It’s all about going cheap isn’t it. Cheaper is better by definition, right? So along with a $150 iPhone, a $149 iPad, a $399 Mac with slots, now Apple must come up with a $180 digital assistant to compete with the Echo Dot, a $30 gadget. I’m truly sorry to be responding with extreme sarcasm but we’ve been listening to this go cheap drumbeat every tine a new product category becomes popular. Apple can’t survive without eventually going cheap.

    1. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of PCs.

    2. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of smartphones.

    3. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of tablets.

    4. Apple does not have the largest music and video streaming service.

    5. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of digital assistants.

    Yet Apple has managed to amass a $250 Billion pile of cash, and Apple has managed to rise to a market capitalization of around $900 Billion, all without competing at the low end of any of the markets it is in. And it did this by sticking to its principles of making high quality products that people love to use. So tell me again why Apple must go low to survive?
    I wouldn't say they need to go cheap, just cheaper. 
  • Reply 15 of 59
    lkrupp said:
    Oh look! Another pundit telling Apple it must go after the low end market to survive and compete. It’s all about going cheap isn’t it. Cheaper is better by definition, right? So along with a $150 iPhone, a $149 iPad, a $399 Mac with slots, now Apple must come up with a $180 digital assistant to compete with the Echo Dot, a $30 gadget. I’m truly sorry to be responding with extreme sarcasm but we’ve been listening to this go cheap drumbeat every tine a new product category becomes popular. Apple can’t survive without eventually going cheap.

    1. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of PCs.

    2. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of smartphones.

    3. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of tablets.

    4. Apple does not have the largest music and video streaming service.

    5. Apple is not the largest manufacturer of digital assistants.

    Yet Apple has managed to amass a $250 Billion pile of cash, and Apple has managed to rise to a market capitalization of around $900 Billion, all without competing at the low end of any of the markets it is in. And it did this by sticking to its principles of making high quality products that people love to use. So tell me again why Apple must go low to survive?
    Exactly. More of the "Apple needs to!" schtick, when really they mean "I wish Apple would..."
    edited December 2017 cecil444watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 59

    Bacillus3 said:
    lkrupp said:

    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Stop with the trolling about Siri. You have no clue about Siri or its capabilities.
    That's exactly how Apple VP's take sound criticism ("bad week"- Pavlov reaction)
    How Ballmerized can you be.
    That you're comparing MS execs like Ballmer to Apple execs like Craig Federighi makes clear how uninformed you are about the company. Keep dreaming.
    magman1979GG1racerhomie3Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 59
    How is buying several HomePods (regardless of price) going to be cheaper than using the preexisting iPhone (and possibly Watch) people already have. Amazon can sell you a speaker that works for one or two rooms in your house. Your iPhone goes everywhere with you. They don't really need to compete with Echo on that front. What they do need to do is work harder to make Siri more extensible depending on which devices you own.
    StrangeDaysracerhomie3Rayz2016watto_cobraCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 18 of 59
    kimberly said:
    genovelle said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    I'm happy that Siri does exactly what you want but would be interested to know who appointed you as the spokesperson for the millions of others?  Even the most casual bit of review research puts the voice assistants from Amazon & particularly Google way way out in front of Siri.  It won't be too long though and all voice assistant software will be on a par with each other.  It is where the query is sent that makes the difference to the 'quality' and 'intelligence' of the answer that gets returned.  It is hard to comprehend anyone being able to compete in the 'intelligence' space given the sheer extent of the data repository that Google have scraped over the years.
    That data repository means nothing. This is the model that counts and no one has the monopoly on those. You have no idea about the extent of the data repository Apple uses to build its ML models. You must imagine the number of Apple devices in use and billions of daily interactions on those devices in 23 languages to get an idea...
    cornchipracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 59

    kimberly said:
    genovelle said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    I'm happy that Siri does exactly what you want but would be interested to know who appointed you as the spokesperson for the millions of others?  Even the most casual bit of review research puts the voice assistants from Amazon & particularly Google way way out in front of Siri.  It won't be too long though and all voice assistant software will be on a par with each other.  It is where the query is sent that makes the difference to the 'quality' and 'intelligence' of the answer that gets returned.  It is hard to comprehend anyone being able to compete in the 'intelligence' space given the sheer extent of the data repository that Google have scraped over the years.
    Well, by the same token, who made "kkqd1337" the spokesperson for the millions of other siri users? And no, the most casual bit of research doesnt put the Google/Amazon assistants ahead. Rather, it shows they all suck but in different ways. Top hit in my casual search:

    "The wide distribution shows that there is no one-size-fits-all winner when it comes to voice assistants. Your best pick is the one that succeeds at the categories most important to you, working with the devices you want in the ecosystem that you use."

    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/alexa-vs-siri-vs-google,review-4772.html



    magman1979racerhomie3Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 59

    cropr said:
    genovelle said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Apple should have been in this market first. Siri is consistently terrible and it’s embarrasing for them that Amazon have come from no where to create this whole Echo/AI market. I just can’t understand what Apple and Google are doing with all their money and knowledge. They are both now playing catch up to Amazon? A shopping store.  

    I hope Apple intend to do something more than just look out the windows in their new campus.
    Funny how Siri works awesomely for me and millions of others and does things I actually want. That does not include buying things from Amazon by voice.  

    Good for you and these millions.

    But as a Dutch speaking Belgian, I can say that Srii in Dutch is useless, because it is does not understand 80% of what I am saying.  Using Siri in English is much better in recognizing what I am saying, but Siri in English does not understand any Dutch or French names, which  is quite painful for navigation and  contact related apps.  Asking Siri in English to play a song with a English title works fine, but that's about it.  Very poor of Apple.

    And by the way, Google Now on an iPhone does a much better job in understanding my Dutch, so it can't be that difficult.
    (Resisting temptation to make joke about everybody not understanding 80% of Dutch speakers...) Ahem. How well does Alexa do Dutch? It doesn't, at all. Will it? Who knows, but there are a lot of languages in the world and it's not likely any of these services are going to be great in all languages all at once.
    edited December 2017 magman1979cornchipspliff monkeyracerhomie3watto_cobra
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