Watch Effect: Apple Watch hints at a Siri who's always just a shout away

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 2015
Pairing an Apple Watch with an iPhone makes Siri easier to access than ever. But with a new voice-controlled Apple TV said to be on the horizon, Siri seems poised to become an even more prevalent part of the Apple ecosystem.




Editor's note: Apple frequently introduces new technologies and features in a singular new product, then gradually brings them to other devices in its ecosystem, making for a more coherent user experience. Our Watch Effect series examines how the Apple Watch's own innovations might make their way to the iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

With the Apple Watch, users can simply raise their wrist and say "Hey Siri," followed by a command or inquiry, and Apple's voice-driven personal assistant will immediately get to work.

"Hey Siri" functionality was actually introduced with iOS 8, allowing users to invoke Siri without the need to hold down their iPhone's home button. But "Hey Siri" on the iPhone or iPad requires that the handset be plugged into an external power source, as the always-listening microphone functionality drains battery life. It's also an optional setting that is disabled by default.

No such power requirement is needed for the Apple Watch, as the wrist-worn device will respond to they "Hey Siri" command once a user raises their wrist or activates the Watch display.

"Hey Siri" is one of the strongest features of the Apple Watch at launch, making it easier than ever to have quick access to information. But its inclusion in the Apple Watch also makes it clear how "Hey Siri" functionality could become even more valuable, particularly with an anticipated Apple TV refresh.




Apple is widely expected to unveil a new Apple TV at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in a matter of days. It's been said that the next-generation Apple TV will include Siri voice control support, serving essentially as an always-on personal assistant based in the living room.

It's easy to see how "Hey Siri" would play a crucial role in this, serving as the combination of words to invoke Siri without the need to press any buttons, or have a phone nearby or Apple Watch on your wrist.

From there, the possibilities for an always-on Siri are nearly limitless, ranging from basic access to information, all the way to controlling smart home accessories through Apple's HomeKit tools.

Future iPhones and iPads could also gain always-on "Hey Siri" capabilities, if Apple were to include low-power listening capabilities in a future A-series chip. A number of Android devices offer similar "OK Google" support, available on Lollipop-powered handsets including the latest Snapdragon processors.




Finally, users have long waited for Siri to come to the Mac, and always-on listening capabilities would be a natural fit for OS X.

Enabling "Hey Siri" across all devices does have its drawbacks, however. For example, saying those magic words while in a room with multiple iPhones and/or iPads charging results in a cacophony of personal assistants, all trying to respond to your command.

Such minor quirks should be easy for Apple to fix, however, as it works to make Siri the ubiquitous voice-control platform, always at your service whenever you need it.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    dtm1212dtm1212 Posts: 11member
    Well Apple has a lot of work to do on Siri to get it to understand what is asked if it is going to be a universal way of doing things. On my iPhone 6 Siri is successful about 30% at best.

    I like the Siri one where I invoke "Hey Siri" in the middle of the night, dead silent bedroom and ask, "Hey Siri what time is it? and get back Siri responding with options for Time Magazine! So useful.
  • Reply 2 of 36
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    The prerequisite for quality control of the AppleTV with the AppleWatch is the #1 feature that Apple HAS to come out with for the AppleTV Refresh: GLOBAL SEARCH.

    You need to be able to search for "XYV TV SHOW" and get aggregated results from iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu, and whatever other junk channel might randomly have a few episodes.

    It would be nice if the search results had some quick action buttons next to the options, as well as some indicator icons. Little icons that tell you whether its Paid, Free, or Free Ad Supported content, etc.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Having an AI virtual assistant on your wrist at all times would be a game changer for the company that gets it 100%. Apple, Microsoft and Google are all charging ahead.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    If Apple Watch forces Siri to become better that's a win-win for everyone.

    Incidentally an Android Wear review in the WSJ was quite critical of Google Now for basically being too invasive; that it's trying to be clairvoyant when it's really not. For instance you raise your wrist because you want to see the time and a bunch of cards pop up presenting you information Google thinks you want to see.

    http://t.co/6ab344kTrW

    This is where I think Apple has a real opportunity with Watch to get notifications and glanceable information right. I hope we see improvements in that area announced at WWDC.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    rp2011rp2011 Posts: 159member
    Hey Mac for the Mac
    Hey home for homekit/Apple tv

    But probably have the ability to name your device whatever user chooses
  • Reply 6 of 36
    krreagankrreagan Posts: 218member

    Need to add new personalization of the AI. I would suggest voice(male/female, harsh/syrupy/sexy), personality traits(sweet/edgy/funny/serious), name(Siri/Mother/HAL/Barbie...) Everyone has a different idea of what an AI should be and how they should interact. It needs to be as flexible as possible. I don't want to feel I'm interacting with the same AI as the lady next to me on the plane...

  • Reply 7 of 36
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,799member

    Then Siri needs a smarter brain and more functionality. Far too often I will ask questions and Siri is unable to help me with an answer. Just yesterday I asked how many miles was Washington D.C. away from me and instead of giving me the answer she mapped a route. I asked the Google voice assistant the same question and got the answer immediately. maybe not the best example but there are many other times I have tried with equally bad results. Siri is good at what she does but Apple needs to expand the types of data she is able to provide. 

  • Reply 8 of 36
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    gwmac wrote: »
    Then Siri needs a smarter brain and more functionality. Far too often I will ask questions and Siri is unable to help me with an answer. Just yesterday I asked how many miles was Washington D.C. away from me and instead of giving me the answer she mapped a route. I asked the Google voice assistant the same question and got the answer immediately. maybe not the best example but there are many other times I have tried with equally bad results. Siri is good at what she does but Apple needs to expand the types of data she is able to provide. 

    The map would also show the distance.

    Most of the time when people say they have Siri issues, it's because they're doing it wrong; shouting into the microphone, asking stupid things which a normal person would find insulting, etc.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    If Siri is where it's all going, then the watch is truly a stepping stone to what we saw in HER. People are already suggesting that people walking around talking into their watches will become a normal, socially acceptable part of society. So, no more watch, but an earwig, and fully conversant AI. Or perhaps we'll all have Star Trek The Next Generation style com badges for those who don't like putting things in their ears and don't care who hears what's being said -- you know, like carrying on a phone conversation on your watch in public.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post



    If Siri is where it's all going, then the watch is truly a stepping stone to what we saw in HER. People are already suggesting that people walking around talking into their watches will become a normal, socially acceptable part of society. So, no more watch, but an earwig, and fully conversant AI. Or perhaps we'll all have Star Trek The Next Generation style com badges for those who don't like putting things in their ears and don't care who hears what's being said -- you know, like carrying on a phone conversation on your watch in public.



    I like the societal trend of talking to your watch...unlike an ear piece, you don't look like you're talking to yourself like a crazy person.

     

    One thing that never caught on, that I think Apple was thinking/expecting to fit in naturally, was Raise to Speak Siri...holding the phone to your ear, making it look more "normal" while talking to the phone. No one does this. No one even knows they CAN do this.

  • Reply 11 of 36
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

     

    Then Siri needs a smarter brain and more functionality. Far too often I will ask questions and Siri is unable to help me with an answer. Just yesterday I asked how many miles was Washington D.C. away from me and instead of giving me the answer she mapped a route. I asked the Google voice assistant the same question and got the answer immediately. maybe not the best example but there are many other times I have tried with equally bad results. Siri is good at what she does but Apple needs to expand the types of data she is able to provide. 




    I just asked the same question...

     

    Me: How many weighs [sic] is Washington DC from here

    SiriIt looks like Washington, D.C. is about 307 miles away, Michael.

    [Map of Washington D.C.]

     

    Also...

     

    Me: How far away is Washington DC

    SiriWashington, D.C. is about 307 miles away, Michael.

    [Map of Washington D.C.]

     

    I'm not sure how you asked or even if Siri actually understood you, but even when she didn't "get" what I said exactly, she still understood what I wanted and gave it to me.

     

     

    Added Google results... "how many miles to washington dc"

    Got a map with driving directions. Hmmmm.

  • Reply 12 of 36
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post





    The map would also show the distance.



    Most of the time when people say they have Siri issues, it's because they're doing it wrong; shouting into the microphone, asking stupid things which a normal person would find insulting, etc.



    Yes the map showed the answer and that is why I said it wasn't the best example. But keep in mind that took more time because she had to map a route and technically all I wanted was the answer to how many miles. Google gave it to me immediately without mapping the drive.  I use the voice dictation feature for around 90% of my texts and it gets it right nearly all the time so that is not a problem. I just think because Google and Bing's is tied in with their search engine they have access to a lot more types of questions and data than Siri. I hope that can be corrected. I like Siri but simply thinks she needs a tad higher IQ. 

  • Reply 13 of 36
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,799member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

     



    I just asked the same question...

     

    Me: How many weighs [sic] is Washington DC from here

    SiriIt looks like Washington, D.C. is about 307 miles away, Michael.

    [Map of Washington D.C.]

     

    Also...

     

    Me: How far away is Washington DC

    SiriWashington, D.C. is about 307 miles away, Michael.

    [Map of Washington D.C.]

     

    I'm not sure how you asked or even if Siri actually understood you, but even when she didn't "get" what I said exactly, she still understood what I wanted and gave it to me.




    I just asked again and she got it right this time. I phrased it the same as before which is the same question you used. maybe it was just a fluke. But my point is still valid that I am often able to ask questions to Siri and stump her (unintentionally) and I can get the answer from the Google version. 

     

    But I will add that the voice dictation feature in iOS is pretty damned good. It rarely makes any mistakes in my text dictations which is what I predominantly use for all my texts

  • Reply 14 of 36
    atokoschatokosch Posts: 46member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dtm1212 View Post



    Well Apple has a lot of work to do on Siri to get it to understand what is asked if it is going to be a universal way of doing things. On my iPhone 6 Siri is successful about 30% at best.



    I like the Siri one where I invoke "Hey Siri" in the middle of the night, dead silent bedroom and ask, "Hey Siri what time is it? and get back Siri responding with options for Time Magazine! So useful.

    I used to have a low success rate with Siri until i started to use it more. Since December 2014 i have had a car that has Siri Eyes free and i am suppose to be getting CarPlay in an update (we'll see if Honda actually pushes it out to the 2015 Civic Coupe though). But i have found that the more i use it in the car the better it is. I used to have trouble with saying "play songs by Logic" when i first got the car, it would put on songs that were not from Logic, but now it understands me and plays songs by Logic. It was the same way with texting, it used to cut me off while i was still speaking and my messages would not be exactly what i said, but now it is much better, it rarely cuts me off now and my messages are correct 90% of the time, if they're not correct i just say edit after it rereads it to me and repeat it over and it usually picks up on what it messed up on. 

    I am not the only one with this kind of success with Siri, I know many people that had the same issue until they used Siri much more. 

    Siri learns from you so you need to use it in order for it to learn and get better, Google Now is the same way. 

  • Reply 15 of 36

    "Hey Siri, I've fallen and I can't get up!"

     

    With the boomer generation now swelling the retirement rolls, the desire for a more sheik form of "Life Alert" monitoring is poised to balloon.  And the AppleWatch is going to be a superb solution.

     

    "Hey Siri, Call 911" Could be pre-programmed to activate a heart-rate monitor and even transmit recent medical information to the 911 system. At the very least, voice activation is a whole lot easier than fiddling with buttons and a touchscreen during an emergency.

     

    "Siri, I've had a crash, call an ambulance to my current location."  No need for Onstar!

  • Reply 16 of 36

    Since Apple Watch I probably use Siri 8-10 times per day versus maybe 1-2 with just my phone.  I can't wait to see where this goes.  They have a lot of work to do to get Siri top notch but the potential is there.  I was talking with a colleague the other day and made a comment that I see an Apple connected Jawbone interface as very useful in the future.  It is about the only way to focus on your voice and keep things private.  Apple watch has a huge limitation in semi noisy environments...the future is bright.

  • Reply 17 of 36
    With Apple Watch, when you raise your wrist to say "Hey Siri," make sure your Watch face lights up first, BEFORE you start saying "Hey Siri." Otherwise, it will mess up.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

     



    I am often able to ask questions to Siri and stump her (unintentionally) and I can get the answer from the Google version. 




    Of course that's what's going to happen, why would you think anything else? Siri is not a search engine, Google Now is. It is specifically designed to answer questions. Siri was originally designed to perform tasks - a digital assistant. Its main purpose to do something for you. I would've thought that was evident in the way queries were handled so differently in the two systems. With Google Now it starts looking up information as you speak - it assumes you want data/information. Siri waits until you're done talking because it assumes you want her to do something and she can't start until after you've given her your complete request.

     

    This is why "comparisons" between the two systems are so flawed.

  • Reply 19 of 36
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     



    I like the societal trend of talking to your watch...unlike an ear piece, you don't look like you're talking to yourself like a crazy person.


    I would agree with that in that circumstance. But the reality is when people start talking to their AI as a primary interface, and the majority of people start doing it, then it will be assumed the majority of people doing it aren't crazy, where as at the moment, those people are in the minority and are likely to be crazy.

     

    The problem with it of course is that everyone can hear your conversation, which you may not want, nor do others want to hear. Imagine if everyone in a restaurant were having audible conversations with their iPhones over the speakerphones, that's twice as many voices with Siri involved. Imagine if someone pulled out an iPhone and started streaming their favorite TV show over the speaker. It would annoy everyone around.

  • Reply 20 of 36
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    pmz wrote: »
    One thing that never caught on, that I think Apple was thinking/expecting to fit in naturally, was Raise to Speak Siri...holding the phone to your ear, making it look more "normal" while talking to the phone. No one does this. No one even knows they CAN do this.

    mine doesnt work anymore. I'm not even sure if its still a feature? i dont see it in the settings any longer.
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