Siri, already bumbling, just got less intelligent on the HomePod

移动互联 2018-02-15

Siri, we need to talk. You’re embarrassing yourself.

You were the Neil Armstrong of voice assistants. When you arrived on the iPhone in 2011, Alexa wasn’t a glimmer in Amazon’s eye. Google’s Assistant didn’t get a voice until 2016.

But what did you do with that lead? You languished
as the butt of jokes while 6-year-olds all over fell in love with Alexa
. Last week, you finally arrived on a product all your own called the HomePod
— and you’re not nearly as sharp as either Google or Alexa.

“Hey Siri, put an appointment on my calendar,” I asked. No can do.

“Make a phone call.” Can’t do that on the $350 HomePod, either.

“Send a message saying ‘When are you getting here?’” Siri’s message read: “When are you gay.”

This would be a laughing matter (actually, the non sequiturs are sometimes hilarious) if we weren’t talking about the most powerful tech company in the world bumbling its way into the next big thing in consumer tech. The HomePod was Apple’s chance to reintroduce Siri and win back some fans. And Siri stumbled out of the gate.

Apple’s marketing says the HomePod is all about music and sound quality. I don’t buy it. The HomePod isn’t just a speaker — it’s a computer for the home. An always-on voice you can interact with in the living room and kitchen (not to mention in the car and on phone and laptop) is becoming the glue that binds lots of different gadgets and online services.

All talking artificial intelligences are works in progress, and I haven’t given up on Siri yet. The Assistant in the Google Home and Alexa in Amazon Echo can also, at times, be clueless. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye — and the same tough questions for virtual assistants.

How far behind is Siri? There are actually some numbers on that: A new study from investment firm Loup Ventures
found Siri on the HomePod could correctly answer just 52 percent of 782 standardized questions. Google’s Home speaker got 81 percent right, and Amazon’s Echo got 64 percent.

In those tests, the HomePod was weakest on questions about navigation and general information. (Their test didn’t include smart home control, an area where Apple lags Amazon in the range of compatible devices.)

The HomePod is the first major product where Siri is the primary interface, so I expected HomePod Siri to be the best Siri. But no: Apple dropped capabilities Siri has on other devices. HomePod Siri can’t send emails, place calls or hail an Uber, even though Siri can on the iPhone. The HomePod can’t pass maps or pictures or other information to your iPhone or iPad, even though you must have one to set up the thing. It treats the Apple TV like a distant cousin.

Another mystery: iPhone Siri has the ability to understand only my voice, so others can’t activate it from across the room. But HomePod Siri treats everyone the same, causing potential privacy issues if someone else asks to listen to the HomePod owner’s messages.

Google and Amazon are already using voice control and AI in the living room to push the boundaries of online services. Their speakers serve as intercoms, shopping buddies, TV remote controls, and hide-and-seek partners for your kids
. Surely Apple wants this, too — it just didn’t deliver on it in the first HomePod.

What happened? I’m not saying any of this tech is easy. Apple has been improving Siri behind the scenes, but perhaps Apple couldn’t get features finished in time for the HomePod’s launch, which was already delayed once
. Apple’s premium price and reputation for quality also raises the stakes: Even when Siri is 90 percent of the way there, we only remember the 10 percent it gets wrong.

So Apple restricted the scope of the HomePod’s intelligence, at least for now. On the speaker, Siri’s best skill is playing musicologist. It can create certain kinds of playlists on the fly and give you some music trivia. Better music might be a point of entry for people buying smart speakers, but it’s not Apple’s end game.

“They can stick to their talking points about what is unique about the HomePod, and use that as a way to distract the conversation,” said Gene Munster, a managing partner at Loup Ventures and longtime Apple analyst. “But their ambitions in the living room are around voice.”

Siri’s wobbly arrival leaves the HomePod in unusual territory for Apple customers: owning a new product that isn’t 10 times better than the competition on day one. Without the smarts to match its sound quality, it’s harder to stomach the HomePod’s other demands for complete and utter loyalty to Apple. You can only command Apple Music by voice, not rivals Spotify or Pandora. You can’t connect it to an Android phone. You can’t even use it as a basic Bluetooth speaker.

But I take hope in this: Loup, which has been running its tests since 2014, says despite the HomePod’s last-place finish, Siri’s intelligence on the iPhone actually has improved markedly in the last year on the iPhone. In January, it raised its grade from a D+ to a C
, beating out Alexa (but not Google Assistant).

And Apple put a fast A8 chip in the HomePod — the same brain as in the iPhone 6 — making it potentially more powerful than the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple missed this moment to get us to think differently about Siri, but clearly it has more up its sleeve.

Washington Post

责编内容by:Washington Post (源链)。感谢您的支持!


HomePod外媒评测汇总:音质一流但智能性不足... 腾讯数码讯(Eskimo)随着苹果HomePod的发售在即,各大媒体也提前拿到了这款设备,并完成了对它的评测。虽然不少评测者对HomePod的智能程度都不甚满意,但在音质方面,大家都给出了高度好评。HomePod的音质不仅是所有智能音箱当中最优秀的,甚至超越了许多售价更高的音箱。 在本文当...
After seeing Apple’s HomePod, Amazon is working on... “It’s been over two years since Amazon debuted the Echo, which kickstarted the current wave of voice-controlled, virtual assistant-powered speakers,” ...
HomePod Early Hands-On Reviews: ‘Seamless... Although longer and more in-depth reviews for Apple's smart speaker, theHomePod, have not yet been published, a few websites have gotten the chance t...
HomePod Firmware Suggests iPhone 8 May Record 4K V... We've learned a lot about the upcoming iPhone 8 thanks to HomePod firmware that Apple accidentally released to the public, and the latest detail highl...
选择困难症患者的福音来了!苹果Siri也能帮你抛硬币... 对选择困难症患者来说,每一次选择都是痛苦:中午吃什么?电影看哪部?买果汁还是买奶茶?而抛硬币大概是最佳解决方案:简单易行、迅速、成本低,深受广大患者的喜爱。可是,在无现金生活普及的今天,并不能随时随地掏出一个硬币;况且硬币和钱包是一对天敌。其实iPhone上的Siri,可以帮你轻松解决这个问题。 ...