Thursday, March 28, 2024

Siri Regressions in iOS 17

For many years, I’ve been saying “Hey Siri, remember to x” to create reminders on my iPhone (to be transferred to OmniFocus). Sometimes it would have trouble with the “x,” but it would always create a reminder. Now, this only works some of the time: sometimes it creates a reminder, but sometimes it creates a note. I have not seen any other documentation of this change, and what’s especially strange is that the behavior is not consistent. I can say the exact same thing twice in a row and end up with one reminder and one note. I tried to look up how Apple intends it to work and found only this:

You can ask Siri to schedule a reminder for you on your iOS device or your Apple Watch. Here are a few examples:

  • “Remind me to feed the dog every day at 7:30 a.m.”
  • “Remind me when I get home to check the mail.”
  • “Remind me when I leave here to stop by the grocery store.”
  • “Remind me tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. to call Tara.”

Indeed, “remind me” seems to always create a reminder. I’m trying to switch, but it’s taking a while for me to get used to saying that. But what happened to “remember to”? I don’t see any documentation from Apple about that. The notes documentation only mentions “Start a new note”. There are lots of third-party sites confirming my memory that “Remember to” used to create reminders.

I don’t like “Remind me” because, for many short reminders, “Remind me x” or “Remind me to x” sounds ungrammatical.

“Remember” is also problematic in that sometimes if I tell it to remember a podcast (meaning that I want a reminder to listen to that podcast) it will tell me that it has subscribed me to the podcast—only it did not actually do so in either Overcast or in Apple Podcasts.

Even with “Remind me,” Siri has the same old problems:

Alan Jacobs:

A significant change in Siri dictation over the past few months: commas. Commas that I don’t ask for. Lots and lots of commas. This has made dictation effectively unusable for me, and I wonder whether it’s time for me to start looking for a different phone.


for years i used to say “balcony” or “dining table light” to Siri, and it would just toggle the lights.

a few weeks ago it forgot how to do that. now it always confirms “do i turn it on or off?”. it’s literally getting more and more stupid

Joseph Bella:

It is astounding how bad it is. Even things that used to work fine like asking Siri to send a text message now don’t seem to work consistently anymore. Sometimes she asks me if I want to use the phone number or email, and other times it just tries to call the person. Sigh.


Update (2024-03-29): Dave B.:

I encountered a weird bug with Siri the other day that I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the result of LLM testing.


How would it get 555 Easy Street? That’s conflating the data from two separate fields in the contact. That is not a normal Siri screw-up, as all the info is coded into the contact and I’ve never had an issue.

With this, it almost felt like Siri’s mapping directions tried to use an LLM to read the contact and comprehend the destination (and mess up in the process), rather than simply pulling the data from the relevant field.

Damien Petrilli:

Siri is one of the obvious case of Apple monopoly abuse. No way they would have been able to keep it in that state for so long if you could change the assistant system wise.

18 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

When I told Siri to "set an alarm in 10 minutes" it used to do exactly that. Now it sets a 10 minute timer.

I think I've reduced Siri usage to two tasks: timers and math calculations. For timers I simply say the amount of time I want, nothing else. So, "Ten minutes" instead of "Set a timer for ten minutes." The issue I randomly face, and it pre-dates iOS 17, is calculations, whereby saying, "3-6-7-7 minus 4-8-3" leads to an offer to call 367-7483. I haven't been able to deduce a pattern behind when Siri interprets my request as a desire to make a call, and I do calculations like this a few dozen times per week. Meanwhile, I have a grammatical problem getting my head to say, "3-6-7-7 subtract 4-8-3."

Mac Folklore Radio

I only used Siri for setting timers, and if I was really busy, for making short notes.

Over the past six months a new pattern has emerged. I'll say, "Hey Siri, make a note: blargle the flab tomorrow". Now about 60% of the time this yields an on-screen error _showing that Siri head everything perfectly but refused to do anything_.

The error reads, "Sorry, I didn't quote catch that: make a note blargle the flab tomorrow". Yes, with the full text of what I said on the screen. What.....?

So now I only use Siri to set timers. iOS: the >=2010s Mac OS quality assurance disaster experience in your pocket.

I use the “remind me to X” command every so often and it almost always understands that I want to create a reminder. However, the follow-through is so unreliable that I always manually check the output on my phone so that I can be sure it actually worked, and then correct the inevitable transcription or timing mistakes it has made. The productivity gain from using Siri to create the reminder is typically a wash.

I have a habit of listening to the radio (well, streaming) in the shower each morning, which requires a high volume level to be audible. Since I immediately want to turn it down when I shut off the water, I created an automation that adjusts the volume, called “pipe down”. However, I can never get it to work properly on the first or second attempt: saying “hey Siri, pipe down” invokes the Siri animation, but nothing happens, and after a few seconds it goes dark again. In fact, more often than not, my HomePod Mini in the kitchen will begin playing music at a loud volume instead! (After several such intrusions all I could guess was that "pipe down" was being routinely interpreted as "play music".) Instead, for my command to work, I have discovered that I need to say "hey Siri” and pause for a few seconds, say “hey Siri” and pause for a few seconds again, say “hey Siri” and pause yet again, THEN say “pipe down”. This works most of the time. And it's ridiculous.

The spurious comma problem has been an issue for awhile. I filed FB11605023 in September 2022 (“iOS 16: voice-to-text dictation has a propensity for inserting spurious punctuation”); to no-one's surprise, it remains open and unacknowledged.

“Sometimes it will show on screen exactly what I said but not actually do anything.“

I emailed Siri lead engineer Alex Acero about this bug 8 years ago, and he replied and pawned if off to someone else to look into. It’s amazing that it’s still not fixed.

In my experience, Siri only works about 75% of the time at best. It misunderstands, or just can’t complete, even the most simple tasks like “Wake me up at 7:15am” sometimes. Forget using it with Apple Music, in that case it spits out garbage more than 90% of the time.

It really feels like Siri has made zero progress over the past decade in the ways that matter for everyday tasks.


I find siri to be triggered much less reliably now that "Hey Siri" is optional. I still say it most of the time but whereas before it triggered every time now it is much more hit and miss. I've also experienced the issues mentioned about the alarm and timer. The purported benefit of Siri over Alexa was that it was supposed to handle less structured commands, but really it is more confusing since I never know what phrases Siri will understand and which ones are unknown.

I probably use Siri about 100 times per week, but only for two tasks: timers and calculations. For timers, I just say the time I want. So, I’ll say “Ten minutes” instead of “Set a timer for ten minutes.”

For calculations, there’s a random issue I get. I’ll say, “3-6-1-3 minus 2-8-7,” and Siri will periodically (twice a week?) respond, “Call 361-3287?” instead of replying, "3,326." I have a grammatical mental block which keeps me from saying, “3-6-1-3 subtract 2-8-7,” and I haven’t been able to deduce if there's something causing the periodic, unwanted Siri response.

Mac Folklore Radio

Oops, forgot to say I'm still running iOS 15. I regret upgrading from 14; 15 is significantly less responsive on my iPhone 8.

New issue for me since 17.4:

Me: hey siri, add x to my groceries list
Siri: sure, which list? “Groceries” or “Groceries”

I only have one Reminders list called Groceries ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, I typically say “add x to my grocery list”. For years Siri was smart enough to resolve “grocery“ to “groceries”. But in the last couple years, with seemingly alternating minor releases of iOS, she loses this ability and simply says “I can’t find a ‘grocery’ list”.

I hope the current breakages are a sign that the whole siri team is no longer applying band aids and instead is working furiously on a massive update to debut with iOS 18.

Apple's Siri page still says that "Siri learns what you need" and promises "...learning your preferences and what you might want...".

Every morning at about the same time I make exactly the same request to my HomePod. But it's hit or miss whether Siri gets it right. I've done this for years and Siri still seems to treat every interaction like it's only just been installed, without considering context or past history. Mostly I use AirPlay with my HomePod because at least then I know I'll get what I want instead of some random thing based on Siri's confused garbled understanding.

Siri is why I only own one HomePod and why I'm glad it was a gift instead of something I spent money on. Great sound, absolutely awful user interface.

My usage of Siri has reduced to turning on/off the bedroom lights and sending messages to my wife. The later isn’t very reliable but the there are occasions where it would be too much trouble to fetch my phone.

Siri has made me hate voice assistants. They’re mostly complete junk.

I used to consistently turn on and off voice directions when navigating with apple maps, I generally want them on at the beginning and end of the trip but find them annoying when just going mostly straight in a highway. Now half the time it doesn’t understand and the other half it refuses to do it and says it can’t do it. The other thing I find infuriating is that I can tell the homepod to turn on the light, because it knows what room it is in, but if I have airpods in my ears the phone takes over and asks “which room”, and then proceeds to fail to understand when I say “Enrico’s Office“. If you are not capable to fulfill the request why are you taking over?!?

Noah A Mittman

I once asked it to "remind me to take out the bulky items for garbage day when I get home" and not only did it geotag my house but it set a due date for Wednesday @ 5am.

Wednesday is not my street's garbage day.

Let's imagine how pissed I'd have been if I'd been woken up by that Reminder, had I not caught it

One thing that broke in iOS 17: "[Hey Siri], open autolock settings". It won't do it anymore.

Lately Siri has gotten really stupid about HomeKit scenes. I have a scene called "Dim." For years, "Hey Siri, set the scene to Dim" worked fine. Lately, it results in Siri asking "How bright?" Instead, you have to say "Hey Siri, Dim," except you have to pronounce "Dim" very carefully lest she misinterpret it as "Damn" and get offended.

Siri has always hated it if you create a playlist called "Favorite Music." Ask "Hey Siri, play my Favorite Music playlist" and she tries to create a new playlist out of music you've favorited, instead of playing the actual playlist by that name.

It used to be you could work around these "hidden keyword" issues by quoting your request: "Hey Siri, set the scene to quote dim unquote" or "Hey Siri, play my quote favorite music unquote playlist." But sometime in the last year or two, that seems to have stopped working.

Making matters worse, for some reason the SO's iPad has decided that it must respond to any Siri request it hears, regardless of what other devices are in the room. So if she's playing a game on her iPad and I make a Siri request vocally, her iPad gets taken over by the Siri UI (interrupting the game, usually disasterously) so it can respond... even though I've lifted my Apple Watch to my lips and there's a HomePod closer to me than her iPad. The only way around it is to manually trigger Siri via button-press on one of my devices. For that matter, her iPad is trained to her voice, not mine, so it shouldn't be responding to me anyway...

I came to this post late, but I thought I'd add my experience with Siri getting dumber. I keep my grocery shopping list as a note so that I can check off items when I'm at the store. I used to be able to say "Hey Siri, add x to my shopping note" and it would do it just fine. A year or two ago it just stopped working, with Siri telling me it can't do that. Well, you used to- what changed? I really hope Siri gets the rumored Generative AI revamp on iOS 18.

Apple had a decent voice control system pre-Siri on the iPhone 3GS, which let you do common things like control music and basic settings. It worked wonderfully and was on-device and fast.

Siri the non-Apple app worked great to make dinner reservations in a flash, and I remember being amazed at how badly Apple had defeatured Siri when they took it over. Over the years, Siri has become a frustrating and useless product. Even when it works, it still often somehow leaves me annoyed.

For reference, I have a 2018 Samsung device with Bixby as its only voice assistant and Bixby is amazingly fast and works 90-95% of the time for me. BIXBY. C'mon Apple!

Siri was never great, but sadly I think it was at its greatest when it was still online. Siri on my now-badly-outdated iPod Touch 7 is simply more functional and more useful overall than the Siri I daily rely on in my iPhone 15 Pro Max. Sad. It's just about useful to leave on, for doing calculations, looking up definitions, or opening apps and calling contacts I use often. But realistically if Siri were operated by a simple grammar no more soffisticated than a modern Interactive Fiction parser, it would probably be a great deal more useful. Maybe it would be less irritating if it didn't keep listening after replying (the hubris of making this non-optional is off the scale). But not by much. It needs a dramatic rework by people who don't have their heads firmly in the clouds. Or meaningful competition from those who will.

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