Which do you have the most? Amazon’s Echo with Alexa? Or, a Mac, iPhone, or iPad which runs Siri? One of the professional guesstimators of business gadgets in the marketplace says so-called smart speakers will hit 200-million installed units by the end of the year.
You know; like all the Amazon Echo devices. You can ask questions, get information, check on sports scores, look up the weather, and even read the news. If your home is so equipped then you might be able to tell the device to turn down the lights or run some other gadget.
What’s wrong with Alexa, Siri, and all the rest?
Smart speakers are stupid. All of them. Google’s poorly named Assistant might be the smartest but even with instant access to all the information on the internet, still cannot perform better than a pre-schooler in basic tasks and requests.
Apple’s HomePod is not much of a talking smart speaker competitor and is aimed more at music and sound quality– with Siri tossed into the mix– than it is against Alexa, Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Samsung’s Bixby.
They’re all dumb. Siri included. Here’s my example.
As much as I like Siri’s and its new Shortcuts, Apple’s entry into talking smart speakers has trouble with content and cannot easily be trained. The example I give is the Mac, iPhone, and iPad app called 2Do. I consider it one of the best to-do apps available for anyone who manages a growing variety of tasks and prefers the GTD model.
Unfortunately, Siri does not like 2Do and prefers to use Reminders instead.
Almost any basic query to add a reminder to a list fails when using 2Do because Siri cannot understand that 2Do is not two-do, to-do, too-do, and with any query that contains a reminder or list resorts to Reminders. Wait. Cannot Siri be trained?
I don’t think so.
While I can edit a query from two-do to 2Do, Siri won’t remember the change. Ever. Not on iPhone, and not later on any other device.
Another to-do app with a similar problem is the popular Things. I own that, too, and it comes with a bunch of Siri shortcuts, but suffers from a similar contextual issue.
Therein lies a series of issues that Apple has yet to fix. Siri cannot remember context. Siri cannot remember me. Siri has great difficulty understanding specific requests or queries from non-Apple applications.
Don’t feel bad for Apple. After all, Siri is the most popular and most used of the so-called talking smart speakers– Siri is capable of running on more 1.5-billion Apple devices; from Mac to iPhone to iPad, as well as HomePod, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and PowerBeats wireless earbuds.
I use Siri Shortcuts but cannot use Siri where it counts because Siri cannot remember context, remember me, or differentiate different meanings from the same query.