An interesting entry detailing exactly how Apple’s “Hey, Siri” feature works appeared in the Apple Machine Learning Journal yesterday. It definitely is NOT light reading (especially as late in the evening as I read it), but it is definitely a fascinating look under the hood of a feature than many people use quite often. The article also details possible machine learning techniques that may be used in the future to improve this feature.
As for me, I rarely used “Hey, Siri” when it was released with the iPhone 6, but find myself taking advantage of it much more often since the release of the original Apple Watch. I also use it anytime I fire up the HomePod to listen to music at home, and I do use it with my iPhone when I am in the car, as well. When and where Apple customers choose to use “Hey, Siri” will vary based on personal preferences, but its convenience means that most of us will in some way or another. This makes it both a crucial part of how Siri works, and of how effective we perceive Siri to be.
This is day four with my HomePod, and I think I have a pretty good feel for it at this point. We all know the basics- the sound is great, Siri is no so great. However, this is the point where users start coming across more of the details of a device, and the HomePod is no exception. Here are some more observations from the last couple of days of use.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Siri? A dictation assistant? A way to get help with directions? Someone to talk to and ask all sorts of ridiculous questions? Well, turns out, she is all that and so much more. When Apple introduced the “Hey Siri” feature in iOS 9 it increased the popularity of the service and made it a more personable interaction–as if you were having a conversation with a friend.
I have to admit, I’m a little old fashioned. I never have really taken full advantage of Hey Siri. Instead, most of the time I choose to physically interact with my phone rather than use voice commands to initiate actions. Perhaps it’s because I never took the time to discover all that Siri can do. When you launch Siri on your iOS device, but don’t initiate any dialogue right away, Apple pages through a series of lists that contain popular use cases. That’s good and well, but how useful is that for the average user–and will you really remember them in the future presented this way? Probably not.