Siri under iOS has become much better at answering questions and commands. We had tested Siri three years ago once before and here also against the Google Assistant and found that the competition was much better. In the meantime, a lot has changed and many of the criticisms of that time have been cleared up. Siri is able to accomplish under iOS 14
- Translate on demand
- Understanding connection questions (“And how old is he?”)
- give answers to be interpreted (“Who is President of the USA?”)
- Open apps correctly on demand
Siri did not grow up bilingual
What unfortunately still does not do is
- Open web pages by command
- Understanding English expressions in other languages
The last point is still particularly annoying, especially when it comes to the choice of music. The default language is German for example and the music title or artist name is in English. That still completely confuses Siri. It’s also funny to see that every time you try, there is a completely different interpretation of what is being said.
Our test set “When did sabotage by the Beastie Boys appear” already caused no problems for the Google Assistant three years ago. But Siri still does not like sentences in which two languages are mixed. Strangely enough, if Siri understands the sentence correctly, there is still no correct answer.
Siri understands more, but reluctantly gives out information
The new Siri design under iOS 14 is actually a good idea: It only shows a small graphic at the bottom and does not overlay the whole screen. So by default the written answers are hidden, but you can turn them back on in the options if you want to read along.
The fact that Siri now makes it a bit more complicated is that the answer is often only shown as a notification. Under iOS 13, it was simply shown what was available. Now there is a hint that there is something to display, so an intermediate step was introduced. Somewhat strange as we think.
In addition Siri now distinguishes in German between the male Bundeskanzler and the female Bundeskanzlerin. Under iOS 13 there was a knowledge card about Angela Merkel as an answer to both questions. Under iOS 14, when you ask the question “Bundeskanzlerin”, Siri also gives this card. If you ask for “Bundeskanzler”, Siri says “Angela Merkel” but only shows the general definition of Chancellor and does not give any details about Angela Merkel. It seems a bit that Siri knows that a women is chancellor but does not want to admit it or deliver all the detail.
You could assume that, but of course we have tried other inquiries: “Wer ist Kanzler?” for example. Here the information about Angela Merkel is displayed correctly and the gender does not matter again. So it shows that the situation with language assistants is complex. You might think you know how they work, but there is a different answer every time, depending on how you ask the question. Maybe you should just not think about it too much and be happy that someone answers at all.
Siri continues to develop – hopefully more and more
It is nice to see Siri evolving. From many we hear that they don’t use Siri at all, or only to set the timer. Maybe the problem with language assistants is that you only want to use them when they are already perfect and you can’t really appreciate the work that is put into the project on the way.
However, we are looking forward to an ever smarter Siri. How is that with you? Do you use her as well or do you prefer to type your instructions into your iPhone?