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We don’t know what Siri’s capable of, and that’s a big problem

You want to find an app or create a folder. Do you do it yourself or summon Siri?

If you’re like me, you probably try to accomplish your goal sans Siri.

That’s a stunning fall from grace for the once-extolled digital assistant. When Siri was born eight years ago, she was smart. Now, she’s entered grade school and we’re learning an unpleasant truth: Siri didn’t develop at the same rate as her peers, even younger ones. (Alexa and Google are learning new skills every month.)

With Siri falling behind, and updates few and far between, we’ve become disillusioned. Sure, we’ll still invoke Siri for a few dependable commands we’ve memorized like, “What’s on my calendar?” or, “Will it rain today?”

But when we ask Siri something new, what’s the chance she’ll do our will rather than bumble an apology? We don’t trust her anymore.

For example, try this test to see if you know which behests Siri can actually fulfill:

Did you miss a few? I don’t blame you. It’s hard to know what Siri won’t do unless we keep track of everything she will. That’s a substandard user experience.

Invoking our bodiless servant is its own guessing game. Alone in our room, that’s alright; no sweat over a Siri snub. Surrounded by friends or coworkers, however, the audible rebuttals are embarrassing: “Sorry, Harrison, I can’t help you with that.”

How much did I pay for the shiniest new iPhone, again?

For those keeping score at home, there’s even a list of a hundred-plus things Siri can’t do yet.

I’m reminded of Luke 6:10: “Whoever is faithful in little things can also be trusted with much.”

Google’s already doing some big things with its assistant, like letting it call businesses to make hair appointments for you. Don’t even think about that with Siri.

We have tall expectations for our digital assistants, mostly because they sound more like real people with each passing year. In Apple’s case, Siri is starting to sound like a grown-up – she just doesn’t think like one yet.

For its part, Apple appears to be recognizing Siri’s shortcomings. As competition intensifies, the company has been on a hiring spree for engineers to improve its assistant. If Apple axes its annual update schedule in favor of more frequent Siri improvements, that may also help to restore our faith. 

Send your questions and feedback to hkeely@reviewjournal.com and follow me on Twitter: @HarrisonKeely.

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