She Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken Unless You Say “Hey”

 


Adobe Firefly image of a woman with large eyes

Everything I’ve read about the new IOS 17 Siri that will respond to both “Siri” and “Hey Siri” seems to be positive and welcoming. Apparently prefacing with “Hey” was quite onerous for the people now praising its demotion to being optional. You’d think that before this you had to say “Begging your pardon, Siri, but would you please” before every request.

Well, now you will have to be more careful when you talk about Siri. That is, when you invoke her name without wanting any response. This was easy in the olden days because you’d have to accidentally say “Hey Siri” and that’s pretty easy to avoid.

Apple did apparently think about this. I’ve found that Siri won’t light up when her name is buried betwixt words. Saying “I want to ask Siri something about turning on a light” is safe. Putting her name last — “Apple really needs to improve Siri” — also won’t get her attention.

Siri at the beginning of a sentence will always get her attention — the “I’m listening icon” will appear — but in most cases she’ll realize you weren’t talking to her and it will fade away. 

Screenshot of Siri’s reaction to my sayiong “Siri at the beginning of a sentence will always get her attention — the “I’m listening icon” will appear — but in most cases she’ll realize you weren’t talking to her and it will fade away.”

So this highly praised new time saver is not as likely to plunge you into darkness as it might have been had Apple been sloppy about it, though it might be possible to accidentally be ignored with a carelessly constructed request.

But c’mon, is this what we wanted? No, no, a thousand times no! We want SiriGPT!

Yes, Apple, we know you are working on this. Our spies are everywhere, Tim, and you’ll never find all of them. 

Or so we wish, anyway. But seriously, Siri is embarrassing and making “Hey” optional doesn’t make me want to invite her to our next gabfest. So what’s the holdup?

Part of it surely is Apple’s typical “Let’s not throw something at the wall and see if it sticks” conservatism: Siri is too important to break. As much as I’d like a smarter Siri, I don’t want her core abilities damaged. I want Siri to be able to control HomeKit as well as plot an efficient route to my destination that involves a sudden side trip I just realized that I need to add. I don’t want any more “Sorry I can’t do that while you are driving” when the result I want could be read to me, but I don’t want to break anything she does well now.

Maybe that’s harder than we might think. My thought was perhaps Siri could stay pretty much as she is but have the ability to pass my demands to an AI when she’s confused or thinks she can’t do what I asked. But maybe that’s harder than yanking her out, roots and all, and replacing.

Okay, Apple, it’s hard, but this is getting really bad. I’m already using bard.google.com far more than Siri and I do NOT like to use anything by Google! 

I hope this gets fixed soon.

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