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Siri Continues To Struggle With Strong Accents

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Siri has been slated by strongly accented users for not understanding what they are saying

Siri, the voice recognition system for the iPhone 4S, has fallen short of expectations, leading droves of users to go online and complain about its inability to understand what they are saying.

According to the Apple website, Siri is an “intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking”. It claims that Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, helps you do the things you do every day and has so much to tell you.

I didn’t quite get that

This has not been the experience for many users who complain that Siri does not understand their accents, including users from the southern states of the US, India and the UK, according to reports by Fox News and ABC.

The company claims that these are simply teething problems, and since Siri is a beta release, it is still learning.

On its website, Apple says that the more you use Siri, the better it will understand you. “It does this by learning about your accent and other characteristics of your voice. Siri uses voice recognition algorithms to categorise your voice into one of the dialects or accents it understands. As more people use Siri and it’s exposed to more variations of a language, its overall recognition of dialects and accents will continue to improve, and Siri will work even better”.

But according to ongoing complaints, no improvements have been seen, leading some users to cut there losses and migrate away from the iPhone altogether. One user told the Apple Support Communities forum that after using the 4S for two months, ongoing battery issues and Siri “being no use” led him to change to a Samsung Galaxy S II, which he says has superior voice recognition. “Siri is a copy of Samsung voice with some silly added features,” he said in a farewell note.

Despite complaints, some users vehemently defend the app, and there seems to be as many YouTube videos depicting successful Siri interactions with accented users as there are unsuccessful ones.

Siri, one of the main selling features of the recently released iPhone 4S, claims to understand and speak English (United States, United Kingdom, Australia), French and German, according to the Apple website, without the need to train the device. Apple plans to  support Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish in 2012.

  1. Great, on YouTube there are as many successful Siri interactions with accented users as there are unsuccessful ones. So the a-priory probability that Siri will understand me is 0.5. Unfortunately, I have a strong Hungarian accent. What chance do you reckon I have with Siri? Even my English wife has difficulty understanding me half the time although I am not sure if that has anything to do with the accent. Still, at least I can turn Siri off with a push of a button.

    1. I DO NOT BELIEVE IT! Some years ago there was a crew of aerial riggers at the place where I worked. These contractors were from Scotland and one of the men had an extremely strong accent. Having grown up in the north of England I could just about understand him but my brain was running at about 95% CPU power and it made my head hurt. Southerners could not understand him at all. He did mention that when they were working in Russia the interpreter was “forking useless”. One of his mates mentioned a funny story about a bar. After the man had baffled the bar staff by saying several times that he wanted a Coke, he was given a CORK which actually was what he had asked for! SIRI will have a hard job with accents like that!