If you're a little disappointed with Siri's features and performance, there's good news: Siri is about to get a whole lot smarter. Unfortunately it seems that you'll have to wait another year for the improvements to appear on your device. Apple is reportedly spending "millions of dollars a day" on artificial intelligence, and making Siri on iPhone and on HomePods much better is a big priority. But we're unlikely to get that smarter Siri until at least next year with the release of iOS 18.
I test a lot of smart home kit and it's becoming increasingly obvious that Siri is way behind the pack. Siri is much slower than, say, Amazon's Alexa; I've found in my home at least Siri is also much less likely to hear me and much more likely to mishear me. Even simple tasks such as adding items to my shopping lists are frustrating and often have me redoing them manually; getting Siri to turn the right lights on is often a frustrating experience.
So I'm very pleased to hear that the next generation of Siri is going to be a superhero by comparison.
Siri's still frustrating, but its future seems a bit brighter
According to The Information [paywall], one of the goals is to make Siri much more powerful when it comes to smart home automation and streamlining multi-app tasks: Apple wants you to be able to use a simple voice command to trigger multi-step actions, such as telling Siri to make a GIF from the last five photos in your Photos app and send it via iMessage to a friend.
It sounds very much like Apple is making Siri and Shortcuts work even more closely than they do already, although it'll be interesting to see how Apple is going to make the actual process of creating automations simpler: at the moment using Shortcuts is a little intimidating if you're not sure what you're doing. With conversational AI – think ChatGPT – it should be possible to talk to Siri and get them to create the necessary shortcut for you.
By comparison, this month's launch of iOS 17 is going to be relatively disappointing in the Siri department – although one good new feature is the ability to get Siri to perform task after task without having to do the "Hey, Siri" bit each time or even having to say "hey" at all. So instead of "Hey Siri, turn the dining room on. Hey Siri, turn the living room off. Hey Siri, turn the temperature to 20" you'd say "Siri, turn the dining room on. Turn the living room off. Turn the temperature to 20". That doesn't seem like a big difference, but it's a lot less clunky when you're saying it out loud.
I'm one of many people who got excited about Siri's potential and then frustrated with Apple's lack of innovation here: I think both Google and Amazon are way ahead. So it's good to see Apple prioritising Siri again, because it needs to: if our Mac future is more talking to the Vision Pro than typing on a MacBook Pro, Siri really needs to smarten up.