Is Apple getting Siri-ous in the face of Amazon's Alexa Echo?

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  • Reply 21 of 155
    Sorry.  I am a huge long term Apple fanboy.   But...I have to disagree with the entire premise of this article.  Yes Apple's profitability is clearly amazing and unprecedented....but I wish APPLEINSIDER would actually publish some articles that are critical of APPLE...not bashing Apple but some actual constructive criticism with brutal honesty.  Siri needs a big Kick in the Pants.  I loved Siri from the Get Go.....But now I have to say I don't love her at all.  I do love Alexa.  My whole family absolutely loves our AMAZON ECHO uses it DAILY.   ALEXA actually has some "humanness" in her ability to actually interact with questions.  I wouldn't be surprised if Google Home surpasses everyone as best in AI out there....Google simply has the most DATA of anyone to resource their AI.  

    Ben, are you really satisfied with Siri?  Is anyone out there satisfied with Siri?  

    APPLEINSIDER---Put up a POLL ASKING all IPHONE USERS:  Are you satisfied with SIRI?

      
    You pinpoint a real problem with most of the Apple reporting ecosystem. It's become an echo chamber of unwarranted forgiveness and excuse-making for Apple. As a longtime Apple fanboy, I want to see writers looking at the company with a critical eye. There are lots of huge companies that make loads of money churning out mediocre products, I don't want to see Apple become one of them. Making pretty designs and hoarding cash isn't enough, they've lost sight of the importance of striving for a perfect EXPERIENCE. Appleinsider should have the journalistic integrity to hold Apple's feet to the fire and not just regurgitate Apple's marketing bullet points.
    singularityrogifan_newwilliamlondonmazda 3swaverboyboxcatcher
  • Reply 22 of 155
    Regardless of how the technologies affect the bottom lines of each company, Apple does have catching up to do with the quality of the Siri experience compared to both Google and Amazon. Siri feels very restrictive compared to competitors, requiring more precise phrasing to get an adequate answer. The other two feel more freeform and conversational, particularly Google Now.

    One reason behind this is that Google/Amazon are not afraid to use customer data to bolster AI learning, which will potentially allow them to stay ahead of Apple. Apple has painted themselves into a corner a bit by being so loud and proud about customer privacy. While their stance on privacy is obviously highly respectable, the reality is that AI software needs real world input to improve and Google/Amazon (particularly Google) are in a position that may offer exponential rather than incremental improvements.

    I'd also like to point out this bad assumption in your article:
    "In contrast, moving from iOS devices and the rest of Apple's platform to new hardware running a different ecosystem, just to access another voice assistant, is a much more difficult transition for users to make."

    At least in the case of Alexa, nothing is further from the truth. I was given an Echo Dot as an unexpected Xmas present and found it delightfully easy to use. It has quickly replaced "Hey Siri" as my go-to for voice control of lights and common questions like weather. The fight here might not be about which technology makes the most money, but which voice service gets the most mind share first, becoming the "Google" or "Kleenex" of voice assistance.
    Let us know when you buy an amazon phone and computer (or a droid and a pc), just to better utilize Alexa. That's what dan meant by moving away from apple's ecosystem. We have an Alexa and her recognition of my commands is about 15% better than Siri, meaning we have to try twice or more times to accomplish something multiple times a week, but just slightly less than with Siri, and that's with amazon having a big cylinder with many mics at its disposal.
    I don't see a phone/computer switch happening anytime soon, but I'm abandoning Apple TV for the better search integration and higher-end features of Shield TV (Google) and have purchased other household products specifically because they work with Alexa. I think it's a mistake to think of the big future opportunity as an ecosystem around what works best with one's phone/computer, it'll be an ecosystem (or a combination of ecosystems) around what works best with one's lifestyle. So, Apple might keep me in their ecosystem for handheld computing, but Amazon will run the ecosystem for my home. I'd rather it all be Apple, but I'm not going to settle for a subpar solution out of brand loyalty.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 23 of 155
    dacloodacloo Posts: 890member
    The author is doing so much his best to defend Apple, it's ridiculous. Garbage.
    singularityrogifan_newwilliamlondondavenmazda 3sboxcatcher
  • Reply 24 of 155
    frankiefrankie Posts: 372member
    Out of the 300 people I know who use iPhones i know exactly ZERO who actually use SIRI.
    singularitywilliamlondonboxcatcher
  • Reply 25 of 155
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,711member
    justme12 said:
    Apple should be embarrassed by how bad Siri works. Actually doesn't work. I love saying Hey Siri what time is it in the middle of the night and Siri replying if I want to see Time magazine cover or anything else abut time magazine.

    Do whatever you want manually the first time, you're going to have to do that way anyway. I gave up doing things twice trying Siri
    I just tried that, and Siri told me what time it was, and then said that I'd woken her up!

    Just the facts, Siri.
    stanthemanwatto_cobraboxcatcher
  • Reply 26 of 155


    bdkennedy said:
    Apple is going to have to rebrand Siri to even get me to think about using it again. It's a POS. And Maps. There seems to be a construction zone down the street from me that's never there.
    Yeah, the new version of Maps has become a bit of a visual mess, hasn't it. Can't even see the Interstate icons any more, for instance! And too many pop-up boxes all over the place that hide actual map info.

    Is Maps also under Cue? (What about Siri?). 
    Maps and Siri are under Cue. Everyone knows I'm not a big fan of Eddy Cue. I think Cook should hire a new SVP to take over iCloud, Siri and Maps. Give Jennifer Bailey complete control of Apple Pay (and maybe have her report directly to Cook) and move Eddy Cue to LA to focus 100% Apple Music and Apple TV. Oh and task him with busing up the disaster that iTunes has become. It's pretty bad when an AppleCare phone rep admits to me that iTunes is too complicated and does too much.
    Cue is so way past his sell-by date. I truly wish, for Apple's sake, that he will just cash in and leave. Apple desperately needs some new blood in its senior decision-making ranks, especially on the software side. 

    Don't get me started on the pos that is iTunes. It's starting to make Windows look good...
    williamlondon
  • Reply 27 of 155
    Siri is like the kid who may have been precocious, and smartest and most accomplished in their local school system, but when they get to the upper echelons like college, find that there are other kids who are just as smart, if not smarter and more accomplished than they are.

    A sobering reality for them, and particularly for their parents.
    singularitywilliamlondonmazda 3sboxcatcher
  • Reply 28 of 155
    I was praying to the God in Hades that this was a DED article. Now I can sit down and have an enjoyable time reading it.
    Because it will tell you what you want to hear? Even Ben Bajarin, normally very bullish on Apple was worried about the lack of Apple love at CES. Outside of iPhone cases/chargers the only real Apple presence was companies providing solutions for the ports Apple removed on the new Macs. Siri and HomeKit aren't dominating anything.
    I actually don't agree with the way DED approached this article. Attacking Amazon on its profits was meaningless.
    singularitygatorguyDonvermo
  • Reply 29 of 155
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,711member
    Nice article but I'm not sure that it really addresses Siri's problems. It starts with a glowing reference to how much more money Apple makes, and then says 'and that's why Siri is better'. Not sure what one has to do with the other. 
    singularityrogifan_newgatorguyslprescottmazda 3szoetmb
  • Reply 30 of 155
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member


    At least in the case of Alexa, nothing is further from the truth. I was given an Echo Dot as an unexpected Xmas present and found it delightfully easy to use. It has quickly replaced "Hey Siri" as my go-to for voice control of lights and common questions like weather. The fight here might not be about which technology makes the most money, but which voice service gets the most mind share first, becoming the "Google" or "Kleenex" of voice assistance.
    No he's pretty much correct.   Some of us were controlling our Hue lights a year ago when HomeKit enabled Bridges hit.   That's old hat.  What people people want now are a series of actions across multiple devices based on an utterance.  If you have this then Alexa, despite the hype, feels very primitive. 


    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 31 of 155
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    I was praying to the God in Hades that this was a DED article. Now I can sit down and have an enjoyable time reading it.
    Because it will tell you what you want to hear? Even Ben Bajarin, normally very bullish on Apple was worried about the lack of Apple love at CES. Outside of iPhone cases/chargers the only real Apple presence was companies providing solutions for the ports Apple removed on the new Macs. Siri and HomeKit aren't dominating anything.
    CES 2017 has been a dumpster fire.  The only thing i've been wowed by have been paper thin 65" OLED screens.  Home Automation crapped the bed.  Nest hasn't made a significant advance in two years.  Netgear delivered a baby monitor (????) . Samsung wanted to flog overpriced Fridges with embedded TV more than SmartThings.  

    Basically people have screamed "I work with Alexa" because nothing of note came out that pushed us forward.  The think CES is rapidly becoming irrelevant to many companies who don't need it to create buzz. 
    rob53anantksundaramdavencalistanthemanRayz2016
  • Reply 32 of 155
    Gotta pile on here. When I first encountered Siri, I loved the IDEA of it, and fully understood it was a nascent application that would have learning issues. Even a year ago, I was perfectly willing to just let it dial phone numbers and set up reminders, and ask nothing more complicated. But when it got ported to the MacOS and it failed to even properly accomplish what little it was doing on my phone, I finally turned against it. On my iMac, it has failed every single test and task I gave it. Every one. The Christmas season ceding the voice recognition brand to Amazon instead of Apple (ie: the "Kleenex" example) finally just has me damn mad - especially as a stockholder, but far more crucially, just as a consumer and lover of Apple. There are just no excuses anymore for the comparative quality failure of Siri. Ben's article tries to use the "We got the numbers on our side! We win!" argument. But Siri comes in the box, like an accessory cord. It's not a profit-generating product that drives consumers to seek it out, like the Echo is apparently accomplishing. It's just something the box they were buying anyway does as an afterthought. No one is buying AppleTV or iPhone because of Siri, but in spite of it. That is NOT the position Apple should be in, especially after Siri's longer development and supposed refinement period.

    I get that Amazon and Google leverage their horrific level of invasive privacy theft to teach their voice assistants faster than Apple. But there has got to be a solution to that, and it's frankly disgraceful that Apple has had the product in use so long and so widely, and yet is getting its ass kicked in the functionality and understanding. Apple has its Maps, Safari, iTunes, TV, etc. to feed data into Siri's brain, so how can it still be this unreliable? No, it shouldn't "push" ads to your phone, but it sure as hell should be able to at least successfully type a semi-intelligible text or memo longer than 8 words while I'm driving by now.

    A previous poster's recommendation that Apple needs to regularly survey users at least as to the success or failure of Siri's functions should have been happening from Day 1. But Apple's corporate attitude has always been "We don't ask opinions, we make them." Maybe that has worked 85% of the time, but most especially with Siri, that's just frankly a lousy way to improve a product that has so many variables involved in making it work for everybody's voices and contextual phrasing, at all times.
    williamlondonanantksundaramlorin schultz
  • Reply 33 of 155
    Soli said:
    Amazon echo is over rated.  I think it will fade in time.
    Amazon people who have never used voice assistance will be impressed for a while with Alexa.
    Time will tell.
    I've been using Siri from the start. I currently use Siri and voice dictation with my Mac, iPhone, Watch, and have used Siri in the past with an iPad.

    I've also had an Amazon Echo since it first came out. I was quite lucky with their lottery and got the very first shipment of the Echo. I was impressed then and I still am today. As Ttollerton states, the HW is more extensive, which probably means the far-field microphones can do a better job, but its excellence as a product and service far exceeds that one aspect. 

    Alexa is amazingly fast. It feels like it's processing its answer before you even finish speaking so it can reply with a cadence that would impress a Gilmore Girl. It also never seems to misunderstand a single thing I say and never seems to have to "think about" what I asked, unlike Siri. With Siri it feels like it it's querying a server for a reply, but with Alexa it all feels localized even though it's not. Same WiFi network and same broadband connection.

    All these services have pros and cons—most of which are the same—but Alexa has 3 great features I wish Apple had brought to Siri from the start:

    1. I can look at any previous Alexa request in my history in the Alexa app on on Amazon.com. I can then let Amazon know how well the service did in understanding my voice (voice-to-text) and/or parsing my query. If Apple had this I believe they could've made Siri much better, much faster.
    2. I can load Skills into Alexa. These are 3rd-party apps for Alexa. Whatever abilities the Alexa service comes with out of the box, telling Alexa to add a Skill shores up pretty much anything you can think of. I think Apple just opened up Siri to 3rd-party developers with APIs for iOS 10 but I honestly can't recall because of the way Apple seems to treat Siri like the M[achi]n[e] in the Iron Mask.
    3. I get emails from Amazon letting me know what new features were added to the Alexa service. They list many example commands and major new Skills and I'm often willing to try them because they are usually pretty nifty. I know Apple has added new features to Siri—which oddly seem to come with iOS updates—but I couldn't tell you any of its newer features to enrich my life because of how they market the service.

    I'm sure Siri is world's better than it was when it originally came out on the iPhone 4S in 2011, and I'm sure that many of the questions I've asked in the past and got poor to no answer probably work great now, but I don't go to the trouble of writing down all the failed queries, wait a year, and then try them again. This is not uncommon and Siri has spoiled for many Apple customers except for the most basic requests. Apple needs to find a way to reinvigorate Siri.





    PS: I'm remodeling my home and when my bedroom is finished I'll be going "electronics free" in the bedroom (mostly) with the intention of it leading to better sleep habits which will hopefully result in more productive waking hours. That means no iPhone or Watch will charge in the room on the nightstand. No entertainment in the bedroom (meaning no Mac, no TV, and no book reading). Not even a traditional alarm clock will be used because of the light from the clock can have a negative effect, according to some studies. Instead I'll have an Amazon Dot ($49) which will allow me to voice activate setting an alarm and asking what time it is as its primary use. I tested this with my Echo, but I'd rather keep that in the kitchen/dining area because of its great speaker and its benefits when cooking.

    I'm curious what people actually ask Alexa to do. I just don't see the benefit or why I'd want one (or a bunch, actually) in my home.

    What would be the Top 10 questions/commands you give Alexa that makes it worthwhile?
  • Reply 34 of 155
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    As an owner of both Echo and Google Home I'd say Amazon will be overtaken by Google within 2 years. 

    Apple will surpass them in voice in probably 3.   The primary reason is obvious.  Google owns Android and 
    Apple owns iOS.   You're never going to be the platform vendor by setting up shop using their software. 

    Google has already flanked Amazon and Apple.   Both Amazon and Apple have relied on being strict about who 
    gets access to Amazon Video and Airplay.   Amazon decided to remove the Apple TV and other streaming devices that 
    don't support their service from their store.  Bad strategic move.  Now there are millions of Echo out there and some owners 
    are upset that their TV don't support Amazon Video. 

    Google landed the big fish. Sony.   Sony as a Tier 1 vendor and Vizio as a Tier 2 vendor cover a lot of market and sell many TV 
    and both have TV and speaker systems that support Google Cast.  Add Pioneer and Onkyo to the AVR realm with GC.  Add JBL 
    speakers and Haier TV as well.  

    Nvidia's newest Shield device,  shipping this month, supports Google Assistant right out of the box.  Google has pushed Android 
    into enough products that even Sonos needs to be aware of the threat coming at them. 

    If Google is smart they'll continue to beef up their Google Assistant SDK and them provide some SDK that allow developers to craft 
    much better apps than the Google Home app and avoid falling into the pitfall of wanting to push only your own services. 

    Apple's going to do fine.  They need to add support for speakers in HomeKit and deliver a speaker with quality microphones that supports 
    Airplay, HomeKit (hub) and iCloud and people will eat them up.   No one is really going to leave the Apple ecosystem for a voice product. 
    There's no rush here just like there was no rush for smart watches and Apple is strong there despite coming in late.   
    watto_cobraboxcatcher
  • Reply 35 of 155
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member
    Hey you got your Beats Pill in my Siri.
    Well you got your Siri in my Beats.  
    Hey they taste great together. 


    edited January 2017
  • Reply 36 of 155
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,176member
    I'm curious what people actually ask Alexa to do. I just don't see the benefit or why I'd want one (or a bunch, actually) in my home.

    What would be the Top 10 questions/commands you give Alexa that makes it worthwhile?
    Top 10? I'm not sure I could tell you an accurate list.. Same for Siri, although my most common non-query to Siri is probably telling it to fuck off after it repeatedly fails on simple commands.

    Some of the things I do is create multiple timers for cooking. I also ask it to music or news from any variety of sources, including my personal library. The weather forecast is another one. A nice feature with having an Echo is that you can practically mumble this from across the room while passing through the room right after waking up and it'll be spot on. Another nice feature of the Echo is being able to say "Alexa…" while music is playing fairly loudly and it'll be able to pause the music to listen to the rest of your command. If it's up too loud you may have to yell "Alexa." Speaking of volume, I like the 1 through 10 volume setting over Siri's percentage option, which I only learned about in the last week. The aforementioned alarms and asking for the time with remarkable ease is one. I can't come close to that with "Hey, Siri…" even though on paper it might look like the same thing. Flash briefings of news are nice while you're in the kitchen cooking, which you can personalize. Having stuff added to a to-do list, shopping list, and to your Amazon cart is convenient. I only use the latter for Echo as I still use Notes in my iPhone and Mac with manual entries. Trivia is great with Echo during a dinner conversation. And if you don't have a song in your library, it will look to play it for you from its collection, and if not it will at least play a sample from its Amazon page. Kind of fun to be talking about a movie and then play clips from the soundtrack from the Amazon website. If you want to play full songs you can just ask it to play a genre. If you have some other service added it will try that, otherwise it will try other options. Unlike with the Apple TV's TV app and with Amazon's Prime Video which lumps paid and free content together without a hierarchy, Alexa's algorithm looks to satisfy your requests with your personalized settings and services, and then works to other options if those don't pan out.

    It's also now great for smart home integration, checking the status of a flight before you leave, ordering an Uber/Lyft, and my roommate used it to find her keys and iPhone as she was prone to misplacing the moment she put them down. There are simply too many features to list and I'm forgetting a million things I use it for without thinking twice. Your request is like asking me the top 10 things I talk about with someone I've lived with for 2 years. I'm not saying your question is unreasonable since we're talking about technology, but from my end that's what the question feels like since it does so much.

    edited January 2017 gatorguyanantksundarammazda 3s
  • Reply 37 of 155
    I used to use Apple products for everything, I have been an Apple user almost exclusively since 1987.

    As time goes by I am using less and less as there are better solutions, at least for me.

    While I use Apple Music, I use a Sonos system to play the music, I use Fire TV instead of Apple TV for media and I use Waze rather than Apple Maps for navigation. As I have a car that has Android Auto as well as CarPlay I have started moving my SIM card over to a Galaxy S7 Edge for longer car trips to use Android Auto as I find, other than messaging, which is something I kind of avoid while driving anyway, CarPlay is useless and more often than not responds with 'I am sorry, I can't search the internet while you are driving' which makes the CarPlay experience useless and frustrating. I kind of thought that being able to use voice to do things like find a gas station or see if a store is open was kind of the idea.

    I applaud Apple's commitment to security and privacy, I don't know how important that is to the average user, how many people read EULAs? My point is that until that becomes important to people, and that would require a certain amount of analytical thinking, I don't think that is something that will be fully appreciated.

    The truth is that Apple services and hardware, when you take the entire experience into consideration is still a compelling ecosystem. The problem is that few of the parts are class leading, I mean, really, what person having used both products is going to use Apple Maps over Waze, or iCloud over Google Apps for Business, even Microsoft with Office 365 has a more compelling offering than Apple, why is this?

    All companies go through cycles, ups and downs, and Apple has become a huge behemoth of a company doing far more than it used to. With scale, the ability to be nimble and respond to a market becomes more and more difficult. Looking at when they announced HomeKit and it's current state is really disappointing. The integration of HomeKit and Siri is also a big disappointment. I have a bunch of HomeKit stuff and have more or less given up on using it as it works 75% of the time.

    Siri does some things really well, interacting with a calendar, replying to text messages, setting a timer, things like that work really well. The problem comes in when you want to use it to do more than that, Google Assistant is a far superior product for things like inquiries about businesses, getting directions, looking up random information. This is because Google is a successful search company and Apple is relying on Yelp and Wolfram Alpha.

    I am involved in tech and of my friends 60% probably use iPhones, I don't think any of them uses Siri on a regular basis, as it just does not work well enough. To add on to that, there is little documentation. I have just ordered an Amazon Echo on the recommendation of a friend who has been using it to control all his HomeKit devices. Maybe my Home automation devices will get some use again, and it is another thing I will stop using an Apple solution for.

    Just as Google acquired Waze, and I know that Apple does quite a number of acquisitions, they could stand to do more.

    I don't think Apple has to be the best at everything, that is an impossible expectation. The do however have to be good at enough stuff that as a whole they compelling for users to commit to their products and services. Time will tell if they are able to pull that off now that competition is heating up.
    digital_guysingularityrazormaidwilliamlondonanantksundarambrucemc
  • Reply 38 of 155
    justme12 said:
    Apple should be embarrassed by how bad Siri works. Actually doesn't work. I love saying Hey Siri what time is it in the middle of the night and Siri replying if I want to see Time magazine cover or anything else abut time magazine.

    Do whatever you want manually the first time, you're going to have to do that way anyway. I gave up doing things twice trying Siri
    I don't know anyone who uses Siri or any Voice Recognition thing (Ok Google, Alexa, Cortana etc) for that matter.
    These tools are just not on our list of 'must haves' for any device.

    This is especially true for the Google and Amazon offerings. Having those things listening all the time is just not on. If you care about your personal security then just don't use these things. Do you really want a feed of your home conversations to the NSA, GCHQ and worse, the FSB? And one that you have to pay for out of your own money?
    Just go read/watch 1984 and see what Orwell wrote in 1948 and how close these things are to 'Big Brother'.

    Sorry, no, just no.

    brucemcdewmeration alwatto_cobra
  • Reply 39 of 155
    I have Siri disabled on my IPad.  I can see it being useful built into my next vehicle (purchase) but that's about it.

    Amazon found a good niche with Alexa devices.  They were a bit hit at Christmas.  I bought 3 Dots (nieces & nephew) and an Echo for mom.  They're all getting a ton of use.  Why are they successful?  Price is number one, there is no way Apple devices make good Christmas gifts unless you're loaded.  

    Also, my sister and mom already have Amazon Prime.  My mom didn't need to pay anything additional to listen to her music (older stuff) and my sister pays a token amount for 10s of millions of songs for everyone.

    My sister uses Siri to send me texts messages...they come out as garbled garbage.  To say a Say Siri 'needs work' is the understatement of the year.  

    Did someone at Apple write this article?  If Amazon gets back into the phone business things could get interesting.  If they sold phones at a decent price (199$) bundled with nationwide LTE (leasing bandwidth from everyone else) they could undercut just about everyone.

    Currenly, the big wireless operators $&@'! you unless you have 4 phones.  Done right Amazon could be a major player...
    williamlondoncfcbrucemc
  • Reply 40 of 155
    As an owner of both Echo and Google Home I'd say Amazon will be overtaken by Google within 2 years.
    Amazon are in it for the long game. They want to be the retailer that most people turn to. Alexa is just a stepping stone towards that.
    They want to be the only retailer of substence left in the world. Ask yourself what they don't sell (yet).

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