Amazon Alexa & Google's Assistant are inexcusably terrible at knowing when they're called

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  • Reply 41 of 57
    Where exactly does Google fit into this? You don't provide a single example of a Google Assistant speaker being "inexcusably terrible" at knowing when it's being spoken to. All of your examples were Alexa-powered devices, and my experience with Google Assistant has been quite good. I have a Google Home, two Google Home minis, and I use Google Assistant pretty regularly on my iPhone Xr quite a bit, and it has never once failed to recognize me, it always knows the difference between myself and my husband (I know this because the Google Assistant voice is different) and it's never misunderstood a request. And while Siri is also very good at recognizing when it's being called, it fails to understand requests correctly on a regular basis. So much so, that the only time I invoke Siri is to tell it to go to Google Assistant, because Apple stubbornly refuses to allow other assistants to be invoked directly on iPhone.
    I have personally encountered several incidents where Google Home has been listening to everything, without being invoked through a command. Sometimes I'll just be having a conversation and Google Home will just chime in with something like "I didn't get that", but more seriously, one time we were having a conversation at home about pizza and we were wondering which pizza places were open at that time, so I thought I'd ask Google, so I just said "hey Google" and she replied "Marios pizza is open right now". She had been listening to the WHOLE conversation! This is very scary.
  • Reply 42 of 57
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,307member
    My HomePod does it too. It will think someone said “Hey Siri” when nothing even remotely close was said. I have had friends who also own a Homepod have similar experiences, and also sometimes they are ignored when they are trying to get Siri’s attention. 

    The creepiest example is when Siri on the HomePod was speaking in the middle of the night when everyone was in bed and no one was in the living room where the Homepod resides. I heard a loud “Hmm?”
    Thinking it was either a glitch or a ghost with a sense of humor, I unplugged it until the next morning. 👻 
    Hahaha  I have run into this as well. I think if something you say has the tone or pitch of 'Hey Siri" she will sometimes try and pick up on what you are saying an answer.

    On a creepy note... I was in the bathroom late one night upstairs and I hear Ok...and music starts playing?!   I slowly walked downstairs thinking someone was up in the house. No one was up just the cat laying on the couch enjoying the tunes from the next room.  I walked the whole house just to be sure no one was messing with me, they weren't.. I quickly went back up too bed without any further investigation. :*
  • Reply 43 of 57
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,470member
    jman70 said:
    Where exactly does Google fit into this? You don't provide a single example of a Google Assistant speaker being "inexcusably terrible" at knowing when it's being spoken to. All of your examples were Alexa-powered devices, and my experience with Google Assistant has been quite good. I have a Google Home, two Google Home minis, and I use Google Assistant pretty regularly on my iPhone Xr quite a bit, and it has never once failed to recognize me, it always knows the difference between myself and my husband (I know this because the Google Assistant voice is different) and it's never misunderstood a request. And while Siri is also very good at recognizing when it's being called, it fails to understand requests correctly on a regular basis. So much so, that the only time I invoke Siri is to tell it to go to Google Assistant, because Apple stubbornly refuses to allow other assistants to be invoked directly on iPhone.
    I have personally encountered several incidents where Google Home has been listening to everything, without being invoked through a command. Sometimes I'll just be having a conversation and Google Home will just chime in with something like "I didn't get that", but more seriously, one time we were having a conversation at home about pizza and we were wondering which pizza places were open at that time, so I thought I'd ask Google, so I just said "hey Google" and she replied "Marios pizza is open right now". She had been listening to the WHOLE conversation! This is very scary.
    Look in your Google account to confirm that happened. You can see every time the Google Assistant was invoked and what it understood was asked, and remove it or every one of them for that matter if you wish.

     Not very likely it was "listening the whole time" since Google requests time out within a few seconds. 
  • Reply 44 of 57
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 1,007member
    I've had a few unwanted come-to-lifes from my HomePod. But it has been better than my Amazon devices in that regard.

    A couple of times this weekend my HomePod seemed to get itself into a loop in response to the quick 'Hey Siri, show me football scores' that plays going into (or perhaps coming out of) commercials on Fox. That woke it up and it started saying something like... 'There are 14 football games scheduled for today.' It repeated itself before I told it to stop. Not sure if it would have kept going had I not stopped it. If that happens again, maybe I'll remember to let it go for a bit to see what happens.
  • Reply 45 of 57
    ...you must be joking. Seriously, I am an apple fan and our home has all the gadget they make, but claiming that Siri is even in the same league of Alexa and Google is ridiculous. Try having a conversation. That thing is even totally unable to maintain context. Apart front gadgets, monitor that space and you see Apple is losing big time on AI. 
  • Reply 46 of 57
    MooseHMooseH Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I was going to chide the original poster for being such a technophile that their home is riddled, not just with voice activated smart devices, but with devices from each of the big 3 competing ecosystems, surely requiring more time to care, feed, and tweak than any convenience they provide.

    Then I remembered I keep saying "Hey, Alexa" to my Echo Spot because Siri needs a "Hey" in order to wake up on my iPad, which runs both Alexa (to remote operate and configure my Echo Spot, of course) and Google Assistant because my wireless headphones' last firmware update "optimized" the 'phones for Google Assistant,and there is no no way in heck I am going to let an optimization go to waste!

    So I think it's best that I just carefully put down this stone and just enjoy living in my glass house. That records its (poor) understanding of every word I say.

    PS: I named the Echo Spot (which is the round one with the camera and digital clock-face) "Under Bezos' Eye."
  • Reply 47 of 57
    Would love to have a clicker on keychain and anything else that would speed up ready for question state. 
  • Reply 48 of 57
    carnegie said:
    I've had a few unwanted come-to-lifes from my HomePod. But it has been better than my Amazon devices in that regard.

    A couple of times this weekend my HomePod seemed to get itself into a loop in response to the quick 'Hey Siri, show me football scores' that plays going into (or perhaps coming out of) commercials on Fox. That woke it up and it started saying something like... 'There are 14 football games scheduled for today.' It repeated itself before I told it to stop. Not sure if it would have kept going had I not stopped it. If that happens again, maybe I'll remember to let it go for a bit to see what happens.
    I had the same thing happen this weekend with my HomePod while watching NFL games. I can't remember if it was a commercial or from the halftime show saying use Siri to check NFL scores. My HomePod went through the current scores and then stopped. I have a second gen Amazon Echo as well. That thing would often start saying random things while watching TV. I would get a weather update in some random city. I stopped using the Echo. 
  • Reply 49 of 57
    So I'm always on the lookout for HomeKit enabled devices, and currently annoyed at the Ring Cameras that I bought into hoping they'll allow HomeKit for the past year and a half. Live and Learn!
    Don't wait, and install https://github.com/nfarina/homebridge on a mac or a little fanless linux PC like Raspberry Pi. Then you will have plug-in for practically any device that is not confidential (For your matter, there is a Ring plug-in)
  • Reply 50 of 57
    Oh well, that certainly explains a lot. Never had any random Siri activation in my household and I have Siri capable devices on every single surface. HomePod has an excellent value for its sound quality alone.
  • Reply 51 of 57
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,242member
    Siri has awakened without being beckoned, twice. Something on videos I was watching triggered her. Replaying the segment on one video tricked her a couple more times and then stopped. The other video didn't trigger her a second time, so I'm not sure what woke her.

    Alexa wakes up frequently. Sometimes it for no reason that I can see or hear. The blue light comes on, she doesn't hear anything worth sending to the NSA, so she goes back to sleep. ANY mentions of Alexa, Alex, Alexi from the TV wakes her up. It's to be expected, so I don't get too annoyed.

    Conversely, Siri has never been fooled by a 'Hey, Siri...' from my TV. I don't know why. Maybe if I really cranked the volume, she'd hear. But at slightly loud levels, she ignores the TV.

    I use both because both need a lot of work in areas where the other doesn't. Alexa tends to be quicker with answers, and can answer far more questions than Siri, who generally responds with 'Here's what I found on the web...'. Siri works much better with HomeKit kit than Alexa.

    Alexa generally understands what I say better than Siri. Siri can't handle my excellent elocution, but handily bests Alexa when I've got a mouth full of Nilla wafers. Both will get better in time, but are still handy enough to have around the house as is, so they'll stay.
    mazda 3s
  • Reply 52 of 57
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    D_CMills said:
    mac_128 said:
    Yesterday I said to someone, “Hey Susan...” and Siri responded. Susan and I started laughing, and I tried it again, deliberately pronouncing her name so there would be no chance I was souring my speech, and sure enough Siri still responded. this technology has a long way to go..,
    AI_lias said:
    mac_128 said:
    Yesterday I said to someone, “Hey Susan...” and Siri responded. Susan and I started laughing, and I tried it again, deliberately pronouncing her name so there would be no chance I was souring my speech, and sure enough Siri still responded. this technology has a long way to go..,
    Same thing for "Sarah", for me.

    The lady who voices Siri is named Susan Bennett. I think Siri responding to hey Susan is on purpose, as a bit of an Easter egg.

    Responding to Sara just sounds like it is because Sara and Siri are pretty close and could be hard to distinguish under certain accents.
    Oh those practical jokers. If that’s true it’s beyond annoying. I have several Susan’s in my office, it’s a very common name.

    Agreed about Sara, but again that just highlights the problems AIs face, and must solve if they are to be a viable tool
  • Reply 53 of 57
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,307member
    MarcFinns said:
    ...you must be joking. Seriously, I am an apple fan and our home has all the gadget they make, but claiming that Siri is even in the same league of Alexa and Google is ridiculous. Try having a conversation. That thing is even totally unable to maintain context. Apart front gadgets, monitor that space and you see Apple is losing big time on AI. 
    How about go back and read the article....

    Amazon Alexa & Google's Assistant are inexcusably terrible at knowing when they're called


  • Reply 54 of 57
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,470member
    jcs2305 said:
    MarcFinns said:
    ...you must be joking. Seriously, I am an apple fan and our home has all the gadget they make, but claiming that Siri is even in the same league of Alexa and Google is ridiculous. Try having a conversation. That thing is even totally unable to maintain context. Apart front gadgets, monitor that space and you see Apple is losing big time on AI. 
    How about go back and read the article....

    Amazon Alexa & Google's Assistant are inexcusably terrible at knowing when they're called


    There's no example of Google Assistant in the article, so not certain the author meant to include them. It only discusses his personal experience with Siri and Alexa.
  • Reply 55 of 57
    As smart speakers continue to encroach into our lives, the cheaper ones from Google and Amazon need to get better at knowing when we do and don't want them to speak up.

    HomePod
    HomePod


    In my home, I have more than a few "smart" speakers. Mixing ecosystems with the likes of Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple's Siri. My Ecobee 4 and OneLink Safe and Sound both have Alexa built in, as does the Echo Dot located upstairs. My HomePod sits in the office of our open-concept lower level.

    Each time I go to make a request, I have to consider which device will be taking that request and tailor the key phrase based on the assistant I want to invoke. More often than not, it is HomePod that answers my call to action -- because Apple has put a lot of work into that particular aspect.

    Then there is the inverse -- those non-infrequent times that I say something else other than the magic speaker invocation phrase, and yet one of the speakers feel the need to chime in.

    Alexa speakers are the biggest offenders, frequently activating when no keyword was uttered. It is amazingly frustrating and almost scary the things they try to do without me asking.

    My First Alert Onelink Safe and Sound once tried to donate my money to a charity, but luckily no charity was set up so she instead directed me to Amazon's website. Ecobee attempted to make a phone call before also saying that it wasn't set up. Had these been configured, it would be far too easy for these things to happen without me ever intending them to.

    I didn't even know that Alexa was capable of some of the tasks before she tried to carry them out.

    Many of these tasks have checks and balances -- like donating my money -- to help stop them from completing, but that doesn't make me feel any more comfortable with them trying to do so without me explicitly asking them to in the first place.

    The unwanted responses get even worse when the TV is going and countless commercials -- especially around the holidays -- keep repeating Alexa's key phrase and causing my speakers to answer questions or play music. This isn't strictly Amazon or Google's fault -- but there needs to be better recognition to prevent this from ever happening again.

    HomePod, on the other hand, has never inserted its opinion unprovoked. Since I can merely speak the phrase "Hey Siri" from across the downstairs and HomePod answers, Apple is clearly doing a much better job of monitoring and verifying those keywords before taking a request. Admittedly, how well it answers is up for debate, but that's a topic for another day.

    What's the point of a smart speaker if it isn't smart enough to understand when we do and don't talk to them? I'm so close to completely disabling Alexa on my other speakers and picking up a second HomePod, even with the high price tag.

    Yes, the HomePod needs quite a bit of love from Apple from a voice interpretation standpoint. Siri lacks requisite smarts for it to truly dominate the competition, and it lacks direct support for other music services without using AirPlay.

    The one thing Apple did nail, however, is invoking the assistant in the first place, and knowing when it should keep quiet.
    No mention of what Google home devices the author has, mine very very rarely chirp without a valid request.  You have to compare price for quality of pickup especially at distance. If you want a fair comparison of a Google device then you should compare the apple homepod Vs Google home max, the latter is reported to be excellent at picking up your voice in a noisy environment and at distance.
  • Reply 56 of 57
    Apple got beat at their own game.  They have done nothing productive with Siri for 7 years, and Siri on the HomePod pales in comparison to the competition.  Google and Amazon were the ones that took the AI experience to another level.  I listened to the HomePod and everyone has their own taste in sound quality, but it was too boomy in the low end listening to various music genres.  The louder it got, the more boomy it got.  Obviously the Beats people created this thing, and there is no way to adjust the EQ parameters.  Apple intentionally disabled Bluetooth streaming on the HomePod so you cannot stream anything to it, nor can you stream music from it to a better quality speaker or Bluetooth-enabled AV receiver.  No line in or out.  So Apple forces you to listen to Apple Music only on their speaker.  Using AirPlay from your iPhone or iPad to play another source defeats the purpose because people were already doing that to their better sounding stereos.  And HomeKit is a joke compared to other smart devices.  The HomeKit app is a mess.  I think people also reported that Siri and phone calls only come out of one HomePod even when paired in Stereo mode to another HomePod.  

    Amazon now has their Echo Plus (2nd Gen) with 7 microphones, beamforming tech, etc. for $119 on sale.  You can also pair it up with another Echo Plus and their Echo sub for 2.1 stereo sound for far less than two HomePods, or Bluetooth the audio to your AV system if you have just one.  The Echo Dot 3rd Gen has much improved sound quality for $29 on sale (or two for $50) and you can bluetooth the audio to another speaker or AV receiver, or use the line out.  I have one in my main room connected via Bluetooth to my Bose Soundtouch 300 soundbar with subwoofer.  All I have to do is tell Alexa to connect my device and she automatically switches the soundbar to Bluetooth and plays the music I requested.  I have three more around the house because the sale price was a steal and I got one of them for free from SiriusXM.  They are controlling my Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, and each of my TiVo Roamio DVRs (the TiVo skill setting in the Alexa app can link a specific Dot to a specific DVR to limit control for that specific room).  In my home office, the Dot is connected to my Bose Companion 3 2.1 speaker system via line input along with my Mac.  Even at $249, the HomePod is not worth it compared to what Google and Amazon can do, especially since I got 4 Dots for $80.  The dots have never triggered accidentally and Alexa's AI is far superior to Siri in every way.  Apple has had 7 years to make Siri a superior AI, but they haven't done anything useful with it.  And now that Apple Music will be accessible natively through Alexa next week, that could be a sign that Apple is going to ditch the HomePod just like they did with iPod Hi-Fi.
    edited December 2018
  • Reply 57 of 57
    This is the biggest bunch of crap. First off, Siri has lagged so far into third place in the digital assistant "wars" that this article comes off as a desperate Apple fanboy's attempt to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING that Siri is better at. Second off, there will always be false positives with digital assistants. Though I acknowledge that many of the false positives currently occurring can probably be improved, the bottom line is that language itself will always have false positives. Think of how many times you think someone says your name, but it's really another person with the same name in the room? Think of how many commercials say "Hey Alexa . . . ." Regardless, I have a 100% apple automated home, but I still use Alexa for my digital assistant. FIX SIRI!
    Read past the headline.

    FTA: "HomePod, on the other hand, has never inserted its opinion unprovoked. Since I can merely speak the phrase "Hey Siri" from across the downstairs and HomePod answers, Apple is clearly doing a much better job of monitoring and verifying those keywords before taking a request. Admittedly, how well it answers is up for debate, but that's a topic for another day.

    What's the point of a smart speaker if it isn't smart enough to understand when we do and don't talk to them? I'm so close to completely disabling Alexa on my other speakers and picking up a second HomePod, even with the high price tag.

    Yes, the HomePod needs quite a bit of love from Apple from a voice interpretation standpoint. Siri lacks requisite smarts for it to truly dominate the competition, and it lacks direct support for other music services without using AirPlay. "
    Why dont you provide physical evidence of all these claims via a nice video in a controlled environment, otherwise it's just your personal opinion. There is so much fake news and protectionism of apple going on these days, the public deserve hard facts.
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