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Apple desperately seeks help to make Siri less awful

At the center of the smart home revolution are smart speakers and virtual assistants like Amazon Echo/Alexa, Google Home/Google Assistant and Apple HomePod/Siri. Despite being the first of her kind, Siri remains hopelessly stuck in the past while her competition gets better with each new version. Alexa already understands natural speech and casual conversation while Google Assistant automatically includes the most  powerful search engine on the planet.

Meanwhile, Siri still fumbles names of people and places. Her voice, which used to win praise for its smoothness, now sounds hollow and robotic compared to the rest. With Siri soon going the way of the dinosaurs, could a brand new effort at Apple help save her from extinction

Bonus: Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are always listening so naturally, they know if your relationship is on the rocks. In this episode of Consumer Tech Update, Kim looks at the AI behind virtual assistants and how this technology can predict relationships and match people to his or her perfect partner.

How to make Siri a competitive virtual assistant

A new Apple job posting is specifically looking for a program manager who will be tasked with monitoring what people are “saying about Siri through social media, news, and other sources.”

Aside from sorting through the grapevine to gather what people hate and love (mostly hate) about Siri, the new position will also support engineering to ensure the success of Apple’s Siri-centric marketing campaigns.

It may be officially titled as “Siri – Engineering Program Manager: Siri Social Media Analysis & Marketing Production” but make no mistake about it, the fancy job posting is basically calling for a social media and marketing manager – Siri edition.

Why would Apple even need a public image manager for its ubiquitous digital assistant, you might ask? Well, frankly, everyone seems to be in agreement that compared to her peers, mainly Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, she’s pretty terrible at her job. Let’s count the ways.

Not-too- smart home

One thing that Siri lags behind considerably is smart home integration —  Apple’s HomeKit support simply still lacks the general smart appliance compatibility that Alexa or the Google Assistant has to make it a viable smart home assistant.

Similar to other services in Apple’s ecosystem, HomeKit is still too locked down, locking out other smaller third vendors from integrating with its smart home platform. This may be a good thing for security, but this approach is not a good one if Siri is aiming to become the omnipresent smart home assistant that Alexa and Google Assistant are turning into.

Setting up a HomeKit-compatible appliance is not as easy as it should be and it’s mostly a painful affair, too. Unlike the seamless plug-and-play “Add Device” command of the Amazon Echo and even the Google Home, setting up a HomeKit appliance is clunky since it still requires a QR code or serial number.

Not-too-smart answers

Siri may be years older than both Alexa and Google Assistant, but unfortunately, in this case, age doesn’t equate to wisdom. In terms of smarts and answering questions, Siri still lags behind considerably.

Unlike the Google Assistant, with its continued conversations, and Alexa with its follow-up mode, which can mimic actual threaded conversations, Siri can’t even answer your initial questions correctly half of the time.

Siri’s voice/speech recognition is spotty too and it’s understanding of the flow and nuances of natural language still leaves so much to be desired.

Note: Siri still has her bright points though. Here are 10 great Siri tricks you wish you knew sooner.

Siri-ously locked down

Speaking of being extremely locked down, Apple’s similar walled garden approach has trickled even to the smart speaker embodiment of Siri, the Apple HomePod. Unlike with the Amazon Echo’s thousands and thousands of skills available, the HomePod is extremely limited with services that it support.

Sure, you can AirPlay your streaming device like Spotify, Pandora, Google Music, etc., through your other Apple gadgets but true HomePod control is limited to Apple Music. Too bad, the HomePod is too good-sounding of a speaker to be limited like this.

For a good demo of how Siri siri-ously lags behind Alexa and Google Assistant, check out the video below.

But what do you think? Can Siri catch up with its peers or it’s too late in the smart assistant game for her? Drop us a comment!

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