Woz thinks Siri was better before Apple, but still sees its future potential

Woz recently spoke to a local paper in upstate New York about Siri now and what Siri was like before Apple purchased it. He thinks that Siri was more accurate and a better product before but still sees the potential for that to change over time.

Before Apple purchased Siri from co-founder Dag Kittlaus and his other partners, it was a standalone App Store app that you could download on your iPhone for free.

On a trip to a rescued horse farm in New York, Woz talked briefly to a local paper about how he thinks Siri was a more viable tool before Apple's acquisition.

“A lot of people say Siri. I say poo-poo,” Wozniak said. “I was using it to make reservations long before Apple bought it.”

“I would say, ‘Siri, what are the five largest lakes in California?’ and it would come up, one, two, three, four, five. And I would ask ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and they would come up all in a row. That was pretty incredible,” Wozniak said.

“Then Apple bought Siri,” he said. He then paused, lifted his right hand and gave it a big thumbs down.

“‘What are the largest lakes in California?’ I’d get all these lakefront properties. And I’d say ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ And I’d get prime rib,” Wozniak said.

Woz thinks Siri is still the future and will eventually become how we interact with technology. Voice recognition software in general, according to Woz, will continue to get better and better.

He is right on with most of his points. The way Siri's behavior changed after the acquisition of Siri may have a lot to do with how Apple chooses to handle data opposed to how it was handled as a standalone app. A lot of those preferences and hierarchies can probably be tweaked and changed. Apple may have thought most people would be more interested in prime rib and food than prime numbers, so they prioritized Siri to think in that way. Of course, that's just my own theory.

It'll definitely be interesting to see how Siri progresses through new iterations of iOS and how competitors will choose to compete with other types of voice recognition software in the near future.

Source: Times Union via 9to5Mac

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Woz thinks Siri was better before Apple, but still sees its future potential

36 Comments

Has Woz done anything lately in the way of inventing or producing anything tech related at all? Or does he just pontificate?

He did more than many of us ever will and it seems he's purely enjoying the fruits of his labor. :)
And...nothing is wrong with that.

He quit Apple after the Apple II. After that what the hell has he done? If he strongly feels Apple needs to improve their software, he should apply for a job.

Woz is still an "employee" at Apple with a salary... He also went on to get a degree in EECS from UC Berkeley...

Funny. NOT. Me-thinks you're the troll here. I will never have any phone that runs the dairy product flavor of the week.

Every time Woz says something that is not to the liking of Apple cultists, his bona fides are attacked.
The guy was on a trip to a rescue horse farm, some journalist approached him with questions, he gave is opinion, and here cames the fanboy army to the charge.
Yeah, how dare Woz say anything that is not in line with cult beliefs! Who the hell he thinks he is! Quick, grab the pitchforks!

I don't think Woz goes around trying to cause headlines... People find him and ask him these things, and his responses are understandably amplified.

Exactly, well said. He uses/loves all different types of tech & gives honest answers when he is asked about his likes/dislikes. Doesnt cater to "fanboys" or pull any punches, and IMO, more power to him for that. Wish more cats on tech sites were as open-minded & honest as he is.....That being said, this is nothing compared to how many people got their panties in a bunch about a year ago when he talked about what devices he uses/prefers, it's a good interview (but im too lazy to find a link), so anyone interested should google it & give it a read.

The Unix-based NeXTSTEP operating system from NeXT Computer is the foundation for Apple OS X and iOS so Next was eventually exceedingly successful.

Woz has however sat in with THE major players in the Applesphere at one time or another. His insight is legendary, his rhetoric without falsehood and few have ever remains as such for so long.

"Apple may have thought most people would be more interested in prime rib and food than prime numbers, so they prioritized Siri to think in that way."
If they did, they were wrong to do so. For financial reasons though, I believe they would prioritize other options to get a cut from the provider [like they do with Baidu ads].

That's funny...I just asked Siri the questions he had issues with after Apple bought Siri and they came back correct...

I asked Siri the same questions and got back correct answers. I often hear people complaining about Siri, but I don't think Siri is the problem, it's the carrier. I use Verizon, so it is not to often that Siri can't find something. Place the blame on AT$Ts bad network.
Also over the past few years, I have come to notice that Waz is a android fanboy. So that may be why he feels the need to come out and say bad things about apple every few months.

I am uncertain what may be the cause of woes with Siri. I have AT&T and I use Siri frequently with very high levels of accuracy and reliability. I suspect some people used Siri upon first purchasing the iPhone and didn't supplement Siri with contextual data nor allowed Siri to mature. Siri has improved dramatically since initial release.
Upon asking Siri for prime numbers greater than 87 I received a correct answer.
Upon asking Siri for the five largest lakes in California I received a correct answer.
In addition to the integrations Apple included at launch (calendars, clock, contacts, email, maps & directions, notes, reminders, stocks, weather, web searches as well as general reference), the next version of iOS will add more languages (Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and Canadian French), sports scores and statistics, Facebook updates, Twitter tweets, restaurant reservations and movies tickets and times. Siri now has considerably more functionality than before Apple purchased Siri.

Interesting, because I didn't get a correct response for either. I'm on AT&T as well. The prime number question, it just offers to search the web, the lake question it just finds businesses with lake in the name in CA.

My answers came back correct. I even switched up and asked for the 10 largest lakes in GA. And she read them all back to me. They could have taught her that mi2 = square miles... she says "me too" lol
So it's not AT&T.

Not working for me. First question offers a web search, second offers up lakes for recreation - no indication of size and far more than the five requested.

The network could not possibly have any effect on the accuracy of Siri results. The only thing it effects is the availability of Siri and Apple's servers to process the query.

The strength/reliability of a carriers network isnt gonna make Siri give incorrect responses. That is all Apple/back-end stuff.....A rubbish network IS gonna prevent Siri from finding ANY answer/info, correct or incorrect.

I agree with Woz. But there was a lot more going on when Siri was just an app. But I believe. Now that apple has it will be what it was again and then some.

I didn't read anything but the headline. But that's what I've been saying for a year now! Go back and look at old YouTube videos of the Siri app. It was dope. I originally read about it on cnet iPhone atlas. Wish I had downloaded it and had a chance to tinker around w it.

I don't know Woz, I had Siri when it was an app, this Siri works much better and it's getting better. I did the number and the California lake thing and it works fine. lots of problems with the old Siri, deleted it

He's right though. Siri was amazing and what we have now is not even half of what it used to do. Even it's basic listening and transcribing what is said was more accurate with original Siri. From hailing a taxi to booking a reservation to finding flights to tweeting and even Facebook status updates. They've basically bought the company and then stripped away it's features so they can use those features to appear as though the new iPhone can now do this or that. Wow! Sigh. Seriously Siri could do all of that over a year ago.

Apple is definitely headed in the right direction. People want sports scores, train schedules, concert tickets, weather forecasts, driving directions, TV listings, movies listings, coupons, store hours, phone numbers, etc. And most of these need to be location aware. Can you imagine 5-10 years from now, when Siri will be able to respond to requests such as "Tell me more about Joe Schmoe", and your are given the option to contextually refine the information, and it is tied into a lot more data sources, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, police records, public court records, etc. Cool and creepy.
Who the hell really cares about prime numbers greater than 87? However, with the Wolfram integration, Siri can already solve alegrabic equations, and plot them on a graph, so prime numbers shouldn't be too hard for Wolfram to solve as well, but again this isn't a mainstream request. Perhaps we will see a semantic search integration with Wikipedia in the future.

I asked those questions of Siri and got dismal results as usual. I speak very clear an proper American English and she offers me a number for a boat rental in another town couple of hundred miles away. I'm using wifi. AT&T is unreliable but so is Siri. Still disappointed.

I don't know why people get so upset anytime anyone makes a criticism of Apple. That's the only way they can hear that they need to keep working to improve. No one or thing is perfect. Woz is just telling how he sees it, there's nothing wrong with that. Grow up people.