In a recent article published on iMore, Rene Richie makes a very valid point regarding the recent comparisons between SIRI and Amazon’s Alexa. The tech press does seem to have a massive love for Alexa from Amazon without ever seeming to quantify the slight issue that if you are outside the borders of the United States of America then ‘Hey Alexa’ gets you “diddly squat”.
I know that most tech publications are US-centric but I have even started noticing a few UK publications gleefully lamenting the fact that SIRI can’t compete with Alexa when it comes to digital assistants… if you omit the rather tiny issue of it not being available that is. Yes Alexa is soooooo much better, I mean it must be, it’s not made by Apple so QED better, right? If we had ever had the opportunity to try it I’m sure it would be better…
I don’t want to be that guy who feels they have to defend Apple. They are big enough and rich enough to do that themselves (though they do tend to keep quiet most of the time) but let’s get some perspective here. Technology can be a wonderful thing, as can choice, also competition can lead to some fantastic advances and discoveries but simply saying something is much better because in one small area it currently exceeds the alternatives seems a little juvenile and shortsighted.
When Apple bought SIRI it was a much more US-centric service that could perform a number of tasks such as booking you a table for dinner. Apple tends to look at the bigger picture and doesn’t just focus on the US market. As a result SIRI was stripped of a number of its features but its language understanding grew considerably so that today it can recognise and respond to 33 different languages, including its most recent addition, Hebrew.
Rumours are now growing that SIRI will see a significant upgrade at this year’s WWDC following Apple’s acquisition of UK-based VocalIQ. Apple is also possibly making an SDK available to developers and rumours of a stand-a-lone SIRI device persist, such as the recently announced Home by Google. This might just be the start of big things for Apple’s digital assistant, even for those of us outside the borders of the great US of A.
How do you think the current digital virtual assistants are performing? Are any of them up to a level where you feel you can use them constantly?