Difficult Times for Siri? Perhaps Not

There are more than a few people who have been giving Siri a hard time. It seems like the general consensus among people I know is this: what is Apple doing with their new data center if they can’t keep Siri running reliably?

But first, a little background

Just three days after the iPhone 4S went on sale in the US, Apple announced that they had sold just over 4 million devices. That number is simply staggering, and breaks previous iPhone 4 launch sales numbers of just over 1.7 million within the same time frame. If we consider that Siri only runs on a single iOS device — the iPhone 4S — I think it’s reasonable to assume Apple limited it to their new flagship phone because they needed to control its usage. So they built a massive ultra modern data center in North Carolina — so what? This doesn’t mean Apple has unlimited resources available that they can allocate to Siri.

iPhone 4S users have been using Siri since October. There have been plenty of reviews up to this point that prove Siri is by far the best voice recognition service that we’ve experienced. When Siri works, it’s sublime, however when it doesn’t we get extremely frustrated and raise our firsts in the air. What good is Siri if it’s failing us more than 10% of the time? The simple truth is that Siri is working for the majority of iPhone 4S users. Millions of people have been using Siri over the last three and a half months, and by far for the majority of them, Siri has been pretty reliable.

Competition for Siri? I doubt it

I have yet to come across any voice recognition service that works as well as Siri does. People who have an iPhone 4 of course are missing out on having their own personal digital assistant, however I discovered a new app called Evi. Evi aims to deliver the same kind of functionality as Siri, but obviously brings this to the iPhone 4.

Last week I purchased Evi and tested it on an iPhone 4. For the first day, no commands I issued to it worked. I suspected that their servers were heavily taxed due to the initial rush of new users they acquired after being featured on TechCrunch. I gave the service the benefit of the doubt and waited 24 hours until I tried it again. On the ride home from the office the following day, I tried my luck again, this time with some actual results — albeit not fantastic.

I regrettably have to inform you that Evi is simply not a great service right now. Many of the commands I tried, which would work with Siri, simply flummoxed Evi. I consider myself a pretty patient person, however after a few days of use I simply had to delete the app from my iPhone 4.

Don’t worry, be happy

Apple is going to sell a metric ton of iPhone 4s’ in 2012, bringing a massive new wave of Siri users onboard with the sale of these devices. Furthermore, it’s undeniable that managing resources for Siri is also a herculean task. I don’t envy the team who has to work nights to make sure things are up and running smoothly — something I wish more people would be mindful of. It’s easy for us to rage on the Internet that Apple is failing, or that Siri isn’t living up to people’s expectations — remember Scott Forstall said it was launching as a beta at WWDC last year?

Time and mass adoption is what Siri needs in order for it to adapt and understand us better. Over the course of the next year, Apple will no doubt ramp up server resources in order to compensate for its usage and to stabilize the service. We all just need to chill out a bit and trust that things are going to work out well in the end.