HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

Apple’s absence from the smart speaker market is being corrected in early February with the release of the HomePod, but it won’t improve their fortunes in that market. It isn’t because HomePod is too expensive, or too late to the market, it’s because HomePod is handicapped by Siri. Sweet, but painfully useless Siri.

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

Here’s what’s finally sent me over the edge on Siri. This morning, my son asked to watch a specific episode of Wild Kratts. Now, for those who are not aficionados of scientific children’s television, the show is about the Kratt brothers and their “creature adventures”, where each episode is an animated adventure about a different ecosystem or species. My kiddo specifically requested “the draco lizard episode”. There are 12 seasons of Wild Kratts, and I wasn’t interested in scrolling through 12 seasons on Amazon, so I asked Siri:

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

And this was the answer:

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

That was … not helpful. So I asked Google (and for good measure, used the voice search on the Google app):

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

And here was the result:

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

For further thoroughness, I did the same search via Bing, since that is what powers Siri:

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

Basically, the issue we have here is not that the information was difficult to obtain. The issue is that Siri is simply unable to parse the request and turn it into a search. This is ironic considering the other day Siri tried to search Bing for the weather for me. So apparently Siri can happily search the web when I don’t need it, but when I do need it, she’s useless. Siri being so dense isn’t just a minor irritation, though, when the competition is significantly, significantly better.

I didn’t test an Alexa-enabled device, but I’m willing to bet Alexa would have understood my request, and I know that Google did. My request wasn’t an esoteric or difficult concept, and it was a perfect example of where a smart speaker can come in handy for a household, but Siri failed miserably. Yes, it’s great that your speaker can control the lights and the doorbell and the thermostat, but part of what makes it handy is for those everyday times when you just need a quick answer; Google made life easier, and Siri just created more work for me.

Worst of all for Apple, you can’t go anywhere without finding a speaker enabled with either Google Assistant or Alexa — last night I found a display of Alexa enabled speakers at my local Shop Rite. So I could pick up dog food, cold cuts, and a smart speaker that would actually do a decent job … why would I spend $350 on a HomePod?

HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb

Price, availability, and features are all obstacles for HomePod, but none of them will matter if Apple doesn’t improve Siri — it’s not the quality of the hardware that sells Alexa and Google Assistant devices, it’s that “it just works”…a phrase once used by Apple that sadly can’t be applied to their flagship assistant.


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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

4 Comments on "HomePod Is Doomed Because Siri Is Dumb"

  1. Siri is seriously not great … and while I know it has ‘gotten better’ … ugh, it is still crap.

    We use Alexa all over the place in the house – and there are some significant limitations to what it will do or know, but in general it does more stuff that we care about from our smart speakers and/or set top box.

    My assumption is the HomePod is going to live or die based on sound quality … but Apple’s overall home strategy is pretty much doomed without a radical improvement to Siri.

  2. Siri is the worst. She cant play the music I ask her play if the band or song name is slightly unusual. And forget looking up restaurants. Proper names are tough in general. And like you said, even if she gets what you are saying correctly, she cant turn it into a meaningful search.

  3. To be fair, as Mike pointed out on FB, Alexa can’t answer this specific question, either. But I’ve generally found that Alexa has a helpful response for just about everything I need. Clinton was right on FB, too, though — Google and Cortana seem to generally get these type questions right. It’s going to be fun watching the dust settle, but for now — I think Siri is a day late and a dollar short. =P

  4. The reason why Echo and Google Home are and will continue to win are two fold:

    1. Cost
    2. Work well with others.

    Apple has proven to me that they don’t really work well with others. I use Google Play and loaded Play Movies on my iPad so I can use the app. I can watch anything in my library but I cannot buy movies with the app. Yes I know I can buy the movie in iTunes but why? This shows me they don’t play well with others. The sad thing is that they used to. Now all they care about is getting people to use their stuff. Apple Music. ITunes….bleh. I haven’t bought a track from iTunes in YEARS. I buy 1 to 2 tracks a year still on Google Play music. Now it’s no surprise I use Google Play since I am an Android user first, iOS user second (now have an iPad as well) but there ARE other services! The eco system is all Apple cares about. That’s good in a lot of ways but oh so bad in others. It means the iOS app works differently than the Android app because Apple’s gotta get their cut. I use Google services because they work almost everywhere….well except being able to BUY things on my iPad.

    When I use Siri to make a call if I say hey siri call X person it should do that but it only does that 70 percent of the time. HomeKit could be the best home automation ever but if the assistant it uses won’t do anything I tell it the first time EVERY time than it’s worthless. Heck even last night I used weird language to turn my light off in my office when I was done for the day. I said: Hey Google Close Off the Light. Which I wouldn’t have thought would work but it did! Siri can’t even do it right when I use the expected words. Worthless.

    The assistants that can anticipate every iteration of language you could come up with to do what you want and actually do it are going to win out. For me, now, it’s Google Home.

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