Pitting an Google search against Siri using a monster 1600-question test shows how useful Siri really is: not at all. Android answered correctly 86 per cent of the time. Siri achieved just 68 per cent accuracy. At that point, it’s not much better than a crystal ball.
We knew that Siri isn’t very good. But this intense test shows just how ridiculous the gimmicky voice assistant could be.
The fact is that even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been saying this since the day Apple introduced the iPhone 4S with Siri. It just sucks. Siri as an independent product, before Apple acquired it, the Woz told us at the Gizmodo Gallery:
It was really accurate, but now it’s full of marketing-driven answers that are not correct.
How bad is it now? Here are some good examples from the test, which was conducted by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, a character who is well-known for his pro-Apple view of the tech world:
When did the movie Cinderella come out? Responded with a movie theatre search on Yelp.
What spices are in Lasagna? Responded with a Yelp search with lasagna on the menu.
I want to go to Lake Superior? Responded with directions to the company Lake Superior X-Ray.
Clearly, Woz is right: Apple’s version of Siri is tainted because it’s marketing driven, giving preference to commercial sites like Yelp or companies over actual, useful results.
Of course, you can argue that Siri is labelled as beta by Apple. But, to Woz’s point, how did it end up being worse than it was as a standalone app available at the App Store? The one Apple bought when Steve Jobs was still running the company?
Which brings me back to a earlier point. Jobs’ authorised biography says that he was at diminished capacity when Siri was being tested, too weak to come into the office. He only tried the current form of Siri at his last board meeting. He briefly played with it and, understandably given the moment, didn’t show much interest. That was it. It’s hard to believe that he would have let software with 68% accuracy to ever be installed in a shipping product.