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Apple has a Siri-ous problem

Apple has a Siri-ous problem
Apple has a problem that it needs to address. Siri is nowhere near as useful or accurate as Google Assistant is and while it might not be a deal-breaker for most consumers, the gap between the two digital assistants is growing. One problem is that Siri will often handle an inquiry by linking to several articles that might have the answer inside them. For example, let's say you ask Siri to name the type of frogs that kill dogs with their venom. Siri merely shows several linked articles and you must read through them to get the answer. Google Assistant, on the other hand, right away tells you that giant toads called Cane toads or Bufo toads is the answer.

And what are we to make of this? Asking Siri for the release date of the iPhone 6s, the personal assistant tells us to visit for the answer. Google Assistant though, knew the exact date and also included links to other iPhone models and their release dates. And getting weak answers isn't the only issue. Siri seems to have a hearing problem. Looking for America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses brought up information for Best Buy. And this wasn't just a one time error either.

Google Assistant understands inquiries better and provides more accurate answers

Siri seems to be at her best when handling simple requests to set up timers or alarms on-device. Even the weather is easily handled by the digital assistant. But give Siri something weightier to respond to, and you'll bound to be disappointed. A test run by venture capital firm Loup Ventures last year lobbed the same 800 questions at Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. Google Assistant understood all of the inquiries and answered 93% correctly. Siri understood 99.8% of the questions and answered 83.1% correctly. Alexa had a near-perfect 99.9% comprehension score but answered only 79.8% of the question with a correct response.

Apple bought SRI International in 2010 to take control of Siri, and the feature debuted in 2011 on the iPhone 4s. A couple of years ago, responding to complaints about Siri, SRI co-founder Norman Winarsky said that the problem is that Apple is asking Siri to be too many things to too many people. But that doesn't appear to be a problem for Google Assistant which is the hub of the entire Google ecosystem.

So if you own an iPhone, what can you do? First of all, there is a Google Assistant app for iOS that can be installed. One comment in the App Store, written by a user who gave Google Assistant five stars, is headed "I love it so much more than Siri." However, installing the Google Assistant iOS app won't automatically activate it when you say "Ok Google." But there is a way that it can be done as long as you don't mind sounding a little foolish.

Using Siri Shortcuts, you can set-up Google Assistant to respond by saying "Hey Siri, Ok Google." You're bound to get some strange looks from bystanders, but it will certainly be worth it if you need a question answered quickly and accurately.

So what can Apple do? Siri is an important part of the Apple ecosystem and shows up on most of Apple's products including the AirPods. Perhaps the company needs to tear down Siri as it did with Apple Maps and start rebuilding the digital assistant from scratch. Apple needs to improve Siri's comprehension so that "she" can understand exactly what a user is asking. And the goal should be to respond to an inquiry with a direct answer, not a link to five different articles that contain an answer.

Google keeps improving its Assistant, going as far as moving the entire platform on-device with the Pixel 4 series. That makes it faster, quicker to respond to inquiries. Apple needs to take this challenge seriously, improve Siri, and close the gap it has with Google Assistant.
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