Siri Needs Better Data Sources

Poor ol’ Siri has had a lot of criticism in recent years and unfortunately almost all of it has been well justified. Hopefully the recent announcement that former Googler John Giannandrea is taking over as head of the machine learning and Siri teams at Apple will mean good things for the beleaguered virtual assistant’s future. For now though, let’s face it, when compared to the competition (notably Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa) Siri is just plain average.

One aspect of Siri’s struggles that doesn’t get much attention is the sub-par data sources it has has to draw on. While it is admittedly difficult to go up against the data king, Google, in this space, sometimes mistakes are laughable and completely undermine any confidence one might have in Apple’s vocal helper.

One example first discovered by my dear mother towards the end of last year is Apple’s mistaken belief that the upcoming Grand Final Friday public holiday for the Australian state of Victoria is on October 5, which is presented to users as fact both through Siri interactions and via the company’s built-in calendar application. The correct date however, is September 28, as is listed by Google and every other reputable source of public holiday information.

Siri Gets It Wrong

In an effort to help out the Silicon Valley giant — and anyone planning a vacation around the holiday — I reached out to Apple’s Twitter support team in early February with details of the issue and was told it had been “forwarded to the proper team for investigation”. Sadly it seems that investigation has gone nowhere, leaving the Apple-toting contingent of the 6,358,900 people that call Victoria home having to wait an extra week for their next day off.

You need to do better Apple, please fix this and give Siri the resources it needs to succeed.