Siri for OS X: Finally, or Yawn?

A report from 9 to 5 Mac says that Siri is coming to OS X, and will be announced at this year’s WWDC. Since Apple is struggling to find useful new features for its operating systems – at least features that actually work – they’ll undoubtedly make Siri the big draw for the new OS. But does it matter?

The point of Siri on a mobile device is that it allows you to (theoretically) get information without the hassle of typing on a small keyboard. On the Mac, things are very different: you probably have a browser open all the time where you can search, and typing on a keyboard is much easier. Sure, using Siri to make a phone call more quickly than doing so on your phone might be a gee-whiz feature, but it’s not that much of a time-saver

I find Siri to be mostly useless. Even on my iPhone 6s, the “Hey Siri” thing has never worked, no matter how many times I’ve trained it. Whenever I do try and ask Siri something, it usually doesn’t understand, or gets my request wrong. I do use it to set alarms (“Wake me up at 7 am tomorrow”) or reminders (“Remind me to take out the laundry in 1 hour”), but I have to check carefully to make sure my iPhone has recorded the correct information, so it takes me just as long as it would to do these things manually.

I use dictation a lot, though. I dictate emails, tweets, searches, and other texts on my iPhone and iPad. And I am a big user of dictation on the Mac as well (using Nuance’s Dragon). So I’m all in favor of voice recognition; I just haven’t found any tasks where Siri is actually useful.

I’m curious as to how much people will use Siri on the desktop. You probably won’t use it if you work in an office, but if you’re at home, or work alone, then you might. What do you think? Would Siri on the desktop be helpful? How would you leverage this tool?

18 thoughts on “Siri for OS X: Finally, or Yawn?

  1. I dislike Siri on my iPad, and would prefer not to have it on my MacBook. I don’t use the Google equivalent on my Android phone either. And I don’t use Cortana on my Windows 10 desktop PC. There’s a pattern emerging!

  2. I dislike Siri on my iPad, and would prefer not to have it on my MacBook. I don’t use the Google equivalent on my Android phone either. And I don’t use Cortana on my Windows 10 desktop PC. There’s a pattern emerging!

  3. Well, it’s reassuring to hear someone relate their experience with Siri. Mine’s been exactly the same. I’m in the car a lot, or was until recently, and thought it would be great, but it was mostly useless for the reasons you describe: poor voice recognition; frequently strange intepretations of commands; responding with choices that require the use of your hands… Wake me up when it’s useful for something…

  4. Well, it’s reassuring to hear someone relate their experience with Siri. Mine’s been exactly the same. I’m in the car a lot, or was until recently, and thought it would be great, but it was mostly useless for the reasons you describe: poor voice recognition; frequently strange intepretations of commands; responding with choices that require the use of your hands… Wake me up when it’s useful for something…

  5. Meh… Siri doesn’t understand me anyway, not even my French. But then, having lived in multiple countries over the past 30 years, even my French has acquired a multicolour accent. My wife has some moderate success, though (Japanese). I don’t see Siri — as we know it — as particularly useful on a desktop / laptop type computer. Even on an iPad (I never tried to use it on my iPad).

    @Kirk, out of curiosity, what kind of English do you speak — given you’ve told us you have lived many years out of your native environment. Do you eventually notice that your English (pronunciation, more?) has been influenced by that?

    • I still have a New York accent, and, while I may use some expressions that aren’t standard American terms, I think my accent hasn’t changed much. It works fine with actual dictation on iOS, it’s just the Siri bit doesn’t seem to understand what I say.

  6. Meh… Siri doesn’t understand me anyway, not even my French. But then, having lived in multiple countries over the past 30 years, even my French has acquired a multicolour accent. My wife has some moderate success, though (Japanese). I don’t see Siri — as we know it — as particularly useful on a desktop / laptop type computer. Even on an iPad (I never tried to use it on my iPad).

    @Kirk, out of curiosity, what kind of English do you speak — given you’ve told us you have lived many years out of your native environment. Do you eventually notice that your English (pronunciation, more?) has been influenced by that?

    • I still have a New York accent, and, while I may use some expressions that aren’t standard American terms, I think my accent hasn’t changed much. It works fine with actual dictation on iOS, it’s just the Siri bit doesn’t seem to understand what I say.

  7. Actually here in Canada Siri is working pretty well. I use it for web searches, making reservations, navigation, setting alarms, texting and even email. It makes an error once in a while, but over all I can’t say that I miss using my fingers for typing. I’m excited about it coming to the Mac. On my iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Siri is indispensable for me.

  8. Actually here in Canada Siri is working pretty well. I use it for web searches, making reservations, navigation, setting alarms, texting and even email. It makes an error once in a while, but over all I can’t say that I miss using my fingers for typing. I’m excited about it coming to the Mac. On my iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Siri is indispensable for me.

  9. My vote: yawn. I’ve not had much success with Siri on my iOS devices–part of it seems to be my voice (quiet). Most of the time I’ve have to edit my request manually, which sort of defeats the purpose. And I have trouble phrasing my request in ‘Siri syntax’: if ‘Play Chaka Khan’ gets Siri to play one song (once I’ve manually edited the ‘con’ to ‘khan,’ then why can’t ‘Play all Chaka Khan’ (or ‘Play all songs by Chaka Khan’) get Siri to play all songs by Chaka Khan? I need an English-to-Siri translation guide, I guess.

  10. My vote: yawn. I’ve not had much success with Siri on my iOS devices–part of it seems to be my voice (quiet). Most of the time I’ve have to edit my request manually, which sort of defeats the purpose. And I have trouble phrasing my request in ‘Siri syntax’: if ‘Play Chaka Khan’ gets Siri to play one song (once I’ve manually edited the ‘con’ to ‘khan,’ then why can’t ‘Play all Chaka Khan’ (or ‘Play all songs by Chaka Khan’) get Siri to play all songs by Chaka Khan? I need an English-to-Siri translation guide, I guess.

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