Using the iPhone is a great experience but I wish I could say the same for its AI assistant, Siri. More often than not, Siri fails to understand the question I am asking — be it instructions to set a reminder or a query for information about a place. It simply fails to understand my Indian accent.
Siri's voice detection is really bad. It takes me a long time to get it right when I ask it to play a song. Mostly, it detects only half of the question and I am left with the "I am not really sure what you mean" response.
Yesterday, at Apple's developer conference, WWDC, the tech giant announced a set of improvements to Siri in iOS 11. For one thing, the assistant now has better machine learning capabilities so that it can understand the users better. Additionally, its voice has been modified to make it sound more natural.
Apple announced that Siri will now use deep learning to understand the user's tone as well so that it can identify the nature of the request. Just as in Google Assistant, there is the introduction of context as well — Siri will understand the space the user is in and suggest results accordingly.
Siri will now also make suggestions based on the user's habit. The so-called 'on device learning' feature will suggest news or topics which the user might be interested in, such as sports or politics.
Additionally, Apple has added Hindi dictation as one of the features in iOS. This might not be a huge step, but it will certainly encourage Apple to cater to more Indian languages, in terms of phonetics.
Artificial Intelligence is exciting, there is little doubt about that. But the visible part of AI, which at the moment are personal assistants such as Siri, are not very popular in India. Conducting my own ad hoc and very casual survey, I asked some people if they use Siri or Google Assistant, and they all answered in negative. This included a bunch of tech enthusiasts who usually jump on to anything new. As of now, Google's AI is much better at detecting the Indian accent. It is now Apple's turn to crank the level up to 11.