Apple was the first major smartphone maker to focus on making a smart assistant an integral part of its phones when Siri debuted on the iPhone 4s. However, Apple has since been surpassed by Amazon and Google. A new report from The Wall Street Journal blames Apple’s lack of progress on equal parts hubris and an excessive concern with privacy.
What many people forget about Siri is that it was a completely functional voice assistant app that was acquired by Apple in 2010. The version of Siri that launched on the iPhone 4s in 2011 was not substantially different from the version that ran as an app. Apple’s approach to developing Siri remained unchanged for several years, as the company’s engineers thought it was ahead of everyone else by a wide margin.
According to the WSJ report, Apple’s feeling of superiority faltered in 2014 when a group of engineers from Cupertino attended an Amazon event that featured an Alexa demo. There, they say Amazon’s fledgling AI understand commands that would leave Siri scratching its digital head. They were also impressed with Amazon’s mastery of picking up speech from a distance and filtering out background noise, both features that were lacking in Siri because of Apple’s focus on the iPhone implementation.
Siri’s development has reportedly also been slowed by Apple’s focus on prioritizing user privacy. That’s something that many consumers value, but it’s led to less data being made available to Siri. It slows development of new skills and limits the customization that can happen on the user’s end. Meanwhile, Google has leveraged its mountain of anonymized user data and powerful machine learning engine to teach Google Assistant how to understand context. Apple still approaches Siri development in a programmatic fashion.
Google launched Assistant with its own powerful search tools and a number of big third-party integrations like IFTTT. Meanwhile, Amazon has given developers a versatile API that has resulted in hundreds of “skills” for Alexa. Apple only launched a third-party API for Siri in 2016, but developers have complained that it’s too restrictive to do anything useful.
The lack of progress on Siri has led to several key people leaving the company, including Siri co-founders Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus. They founded Viv Labs, which currently powers Samsung’s new Bixby assistant. Viv was acquired by Samsung last year for $215 million. With the HomePod, Apple is trying to bring Siri out of the phone, but recognizing speech from a distance is only one piece of the puzzle. An analysis of assistants by marketing firm Stone Temple notes that Siri only answered 62 percent of its 5,000-question test. Google and Amazon scored 90 percent. Apple has some work to do.
source : https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/250613-report-siri-hobbled-apples-obsession-user-privacy