Wednesday, December 19, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Conversations With AI, Featuring Brian Roemmele

Vector:

Voice-first advocate Brian Roemmele returns for a chat with Rene Ritchie about the current status of Siri at Apple, and its place among other voice assistants. In January of this year, he told Rene the company’s reluctance to let the Siri feature become the SiriOS platform is holding them back. As of December 2018, let’s see where things stand now.

This was a wide ranging and very interesting conversation. I don’t really understand the context for Roemmele’s comments about Apple having an advantage in on-device voice assistants. Siri seems to be completely useless without a network connection. It can’t even add a reminder or play local music. And lately it’s been extremely unreliable for me even when connected, failing well over half the time due to a connection error when the phone reports full bars and other apps work perfectly. It’s even failing over Wi-Fi sometimes.

His breakdown of missed Apple Pay opportunities, perhaps because of corporate politics, is depressing. Apple Pay for the Web is not deployed as widely as I’d hoped, and in my experience it almost never works. I’ve seen all sorts of weird failures and errors over the years. The current one, which I ran into just hours after listening to this podcast, is that the sheet slides down in Safari and then slides right back up before I can click on anything.

Nilay Patel:

Top spot in the App Store right now is interesting

John Voorhees:

Today, Apple began promoting Apple Music’s availability on Echo devices through three different channels.

Bob Burrough:

2011: Apple introduces the world’s first voice assistant.
2018: Apple is push-advertising Amazon’s voice assistant.

Previously: More Push Notification Spam From Apple, Amazon Offering Apple Products, Apple Hires John Giannandrea.

Update (2018-12-20): Juli Clover:

Apple today announced John Giannandrea, who handles machine learning and AI for the company, has been promoted to the Apple’s executive team and is now listed on the Apple Leadership page as a senior vice president.

1 Comment

Invoking a Shortcut via Siri only has a ~20% success rate for me so far... it’s so unreliable that I’ve pretty much given up on it (like the rest of Siri).

One time I tried to invoke my ‘Play Overcast’ shortcut while sitting in a parked car: Siri replied “That’s what I thought” and didn’t run the workflow. iOS doesn’t seem to show a text log of Siri’s interpretations and responses when it senses that it’s connected to a car, so I have no way of knowing what the actual input or error was.

The Shortcuts widget on the home screen only has a ~80% success rate for running stuff...

Current successful Apple Pay Web transactions: 0 (out of 2 or 3 attempts). When it errors out, the payment sheet says something like ‘payment not successful’ for a moment and then dismisses itself. No reason given for the error, and if I had taken my eyes off the screen for a second, I would be staring at my shopping cart with no idea if the transaction actually went through or not.

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