5 key areas Siri needs to improve in

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Siri as matchmaker
A survey found what people use their smartspeakers for, which should serve as a blueprint for Siri improvements.
Photo: Apple

Most people would agree that Siri is way behind its competitors. But Apple recently made moves that indicate it’s working to improve this voice assistant.

A British survey discovered what smartspeaker owners actually use them for. This could help Apple decide what new features to add to Siri, as well as the ones that need shoring up.

At 65 percent, the most common request is to play music, according to the Code Computerlove survey. This didn’t escape Apple’s notice, as that’s the primary focus of the Siri-powered HomePod.

About 50 percent of smartspeaker owners ask for news headlines and weather forecasts. These are simple and easy requests, something even Siri is generally up to.

Those are the big two. Next is travel updates at 16.2 percent of users, and playing audiobooks or podcasts at 8.2 percent.

Amazon’s Echo smartspeakers with Alexa are among of the most popular, but there’s bad news in the survey for this online retailer: just 7 percent of users want to buy things with their voice.

Making Siri improvements is important

“I think this survey reinforces that we’re probably not using the technology to its full capabilities. We’re still quite conservative and limited in the tasks we’re asking our devices to perform. My prediction is that we’ll see a move towards more valuable and worthwhile interactions,” said Code Computerlove MD Louis Georgiou.

The survey asked what more advanced tasks people would like their voice assistant to be able to handle. About 20 percent of respondents asked for help telling jokes. Assistance learning another language was on the wish list of 33 percent of these Brits. Roughly 12 percent want help keeping their children amused, and 10 percent would like dating advice.

Siri was the first voice assistant in widespread use, but it hasn’t kept up with improvements made by its competitors. The unkind might say Siri is “dumb as a squirrel.” This voice assistant is lame enough that it’s hurt sales of the HomePod. Code Computerlove polled 1,000 people for this survey and found that just 9 percent of them have Apple’s smartspeaker. By comparison, 76 percent of them have an Amazon model and 30 percent have one made by Google.

But Apple has one area covered. The vast majority, 80 percent, of respondents worried that their smartspeaker will surreptitiously record conversations going on around them. Apple’s strong stance on privacy makes it extremely unlikely that the HomePod would be up to such shenanigans.