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“Siri Is Nothing Special” Says Microsoft Executive..I Mean, Seriously?

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Instead of acknowledging Siri’s sheer brilliance, Microsoft’s chief strategy and research officer Craig Mundie has told Forbes in an interview that Apple’s iPhone 4S exclusive voice assistant technology is nothing special. He rather argued that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced. I mean, seriously? As Christian Zibreg of 9to5Mac has saidSiri-like functionality is non-existent in Windows Phone software. It’s like saying Android has Siri just because it can recognize a limited set of voice commands.”

Here’s what he says:

People are infatuated with Apple announcing it. It’s good marketing, but at least as the technological capability you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced.

You can pick ‘em up and say ‘text Eric’ and say what you wanna say and it transcribes it. You can query anything through Bing by just saying the words. I mean, all that’s already there. Fully functional, been there for a year.

A similarly stupid argument came from Google’s vice president of mobile Andy Rubi as to why people didn’t need Siri:

Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.

Without a doubt, rivals are now scrambling to develop their own Siri-like technology and Apple bringing it first on the iPhone has really kicked them where it hurts.

So guys, what are your thoughts about Microsoft and Google’s takes on Siri? We’re dying to hear your comments!

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  • TrueStory

    They cud stick their phones where the sun don’t shine!

  • Anonymous

    Lmao

  • barkbud

    Siri works about 2 times out of 10 for me. It has the most difficulty in the places I need it most – like driving.
    Yes I know it’s a ‘beta’ so I’m tolerant of it’s problems, but it needs to improve so dramatically for it to be something useful. Until then, these guys are right to dismiss it. 

  • Job

    Why are all Microsoft execs old, fat, white and bald?

  • All praise the mighty Siri!

    Siriously, I barely use it. It’s neat, but they’re right, really – the technology exists, it’s nothing new or special or complicated. BUT, Apple packaged it -properly-. I don’t think the execs were saying Apple did nothing special or groundbreaking, just that the tech exists in their products – which is does – it’s not clearly not packaged in a friendly, obvious, practical manner 🙂
    methinks all MS would need to do is effectively combine their voice recognition software with Bing, and give it a feminine name, and after a few optimizations they’d be in competition 😛

  • Jon

    It does not exist anywhere else.

    “text Eric – I’ll be Late” is not the same as “Send a text message to Eric at 3pm and tell him that I’ll be late”.

    It is NOT the same tech.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not be too much Apple fan and close our eyes. While Siri is great, it isnt magical as Apple makes it, who uses it more then 1-2  a day and, of those 1-2 times, does Windows phone and Android would do as well? Except answering in a creepy voice a pool string that is just a set of string that can be coded in 5 minutes? As great Siri is, I agree with Microsoft and Google, it’s there, been used for years, now instead we have a creepy robot answering instead of no answer. 

  • whoawhoah. There’s a difference between transcribing and understanding. Voice recognition is one thing, but Bing and Google for instance do have the ability to interpret and understand commands and provide an optimal response. Voice recognition and transcription is very old tech. ‘human-like’ interaction with a service is getting better. My sense of Siri is that it’s like Googling something, but with your voice. Competitors can easily implement an algorithm that interprets the transcribed voice and provides its ‘best guess’ answer. Siri is far from perfect, but it is the best *package* of these technologies. Competitors have not packaged their tech implementations to the same degree nor as effectively as Apple has. But they -have- the technology.

  • Frankie

    Sorry, I disagree. I’m too old to consider myself a diehard fan of anything. When Bluetooth headsets came out, I started using them as my job requires me to give phone support to customers all the time. After so many years, I am so used to headsets that I can hardly use the phone by itself. Similarly, I got the iPhone 4S because of Siri. I now can hardly use the buttons. Siri is doing everything for me. It answers the text messages and mail, sets my calendar, does my web search and browsing, plays my music, does notes and office documents and…. You name it. It’s like a microwave oven, you don’t think you need it till you get it and start using it. I’m pretty sure, like me, a lot of people use Siri for more than just smart comments. It saves a lot of time and is very handy. It is also unmatched. I had an iPhone 4 with vlingo. Vlingo does not even get close. My only hope is for Apple to improve Siri and allow app integration for it and notification center.

  • Anonymous

    Point well taken. 

  • Nima

    You are way too much of a fanboy to be a serious blogger. Gary should look for alternatives. Until then, please at least try to be neutral. 

  • Anonymous

    True some of the basic functions Siri performs have been around for a long time… and true, Siri is certainly not as perfect as some make it out to be. But for this exec to say something that stupid really shows why Microsoft is so far behind. Not just because they fail to see the true innovation behind something like Siri, but also because if it is just “clever marketing”, why the f*** didn’t you cleverly market it yourself if it existed on your phones for years?? Last I checked, getting people to BUY your products (ie. marketing) was kind of an important part of running a business.

    I think what gets me the most excited about Siri though is it’s potential. I know it’s only going to get better and will have the ability to do more and more… and I already use it a ton! You have to be a complete moron not to realize that this voice commanded shit IS the future. Not just with smart phones, but with all electronics.

    What the MS exec SHOULD have said was “Yes, Siri is great, but we are working on something even better”.

  • This.
    MS does have similar tech with Kinect, but it’s also a little .. I dunno, clunky? “Xbox [pause] (command)” I’ve always hoped they’d allow you to ‘name’ your xbox for commands, at the very least. But Siri and Kinect have similar uses, and both have potential, but in different contexts. Siri is just far more personal (smartphones everywhere) and practical than Kinect’s commands. The context and packaging is just *better* in Apple’s case. But the potential for both is equally astounding.

    Nonetheless, the comments made by the execs were.. really, just dumb. Doesn’t negate the greater point though – they do have the tech. But at this point, that’s about it. Apple did it right (as seems to be their reputation, ymmv 🙂

  • But, Siri can do so much more, right? It accesses your calendar, points you in the right direction when you are traveling. Can the other reasonably smart phones do this?

  • Donolog

    All a bunch of hype … it’s just like when the iPod first came out … that basic functionality had existed for years in the Sony Walkman.

  • Johna

    Regardless of whether Siri is actually useful or not, I really like how you commented to Frankie to say that you acknowledged his response.  That almost never happens on the internet and it’s a nice change to see mature conversations between adults.

  • Kfdsksn

    Mom always said jealousy is a terrible thing.

  • Anonymous

    I think that what Apple has done with Siri is a great start.  Like anything new, there are some bugs and kinks that need to be worked out.  Once that is done, it will be a great feature that no one would be able to live without.  While Microsoft and Google are correct about the technology being in existence, it takes a company like Apple see the consumer potential (again).  The computer mouse was invented in the 60’s, but only Apple saw its full potential.  Now, every computer has a mouse as an interface.  Siri could be next interface!!!

  • Kosmo

    Seriously? I remember Bill Gates saying the iPod is nothing special and Balmer saying that the iPhone and then the iPad are nothing special. RIM’s CEOs said the same about the iPhone and all of them then tried to catch up with Apple’s products and are still trying…

  • Anonymous

    “….is nothing special”…..LOL isnt that the exact same thing as that buffoon of a CEO Steve Ballmer said when the original iPhone was announced?

  • Dalirules

    Same here. Used it only once or twice just for fun to see how it works. Then disabled it and haven’t missed it once. I don’t need a middleman between me and google/text/email, etc. I’ll start using it again when they implement the “install cydia” command 😀

    I do admit it’s great technology. Just not as “magical” as apple’s marketing machine claims it is.

  • Sort of like the fad of voice recognition for call-in centres, like Rogers’. Cool, but very very annoying when you -don’t- want to talk. Sometimes typing is just nicer 🙂  I do like features like being able to play any song or album by name – that’s a great implementation. Voice is transcribed, command comes back to search the phone for the best match (which is already done effectively with the home search) but jumps right to the best result. From anywhere, “play Sunday Bloody Sunday” will start up that song if it’s on your phone. Brilliant. Makes perfect, logical sense, and simply a matter of implementing old, common technologies in a wonderful way.
    But otherwise? I don’t – I can’t – use Siri for much more than that. At this point, I hate talking to a device, and most of the time I just want to be silent and not disturb anyone around me (let alone have them listen in :P)
    So, Siri is great tech, but voice commands are also inherently limited by its audible medium. It’s only useful in some contexts. Voice-Only is a Bad Thing.

    I still like my “press 7 for…” tactile interface 😉

  • TheOne-RajaBabu

    It’s strange how people love Siri and are willing to pay their hard-earned money for it while admitting along the way it is a BETA product. I can understand companies wanting to milk their customers for everything they got but why are customers ignorant of this half-baked product? Last I heard, Siri doesn’t have full functionality in Canada.

  • Vitamin_vee

    Really awesome when you’re driving. Other than that, I would never use it.

  • Leo

    Siri is the vanguard of a new technology that will dramatically shape our everyday lives.  If you think of Siri as a cell phone technology, you are missing the potential.  In the future you’ll be seeing Siri (or a competing product) in appliances, cars, vending machines, televisions, store displays, airline check-in kiosks, call centres, 411 services, toys, etc.  Hold your breath: we’re about to be transformed again!

  • Dale

    You have to be kidding with the attitude in this article.  I assume you are just manipulating the iPhone fanboys to get them on another factless rant, lol.

    I have an iPhone 4S with SIRI.  I have found that other than a novelty, most of the functions are not that usable for practical situations, i.e. while driving.  One pain is you can’t make additions to text, which means you need to do a long rant with no stops or you start again, lol.  

    However the main reason I think this article is a joke, is that Microsoft and Google are correct.  This technology has been around before SIRI came out.  The Androids have it better in many situations as the voice to text translation is done locally on the phone, rather than sending it to an Apple Server that may or may not be working, if it is working, the process is much slower than the crisp response from an Android. However the Android phones still need to integrate some of the phone functions to beat SIRI on all levels, but Android will do this and will be ahead due to the speed in response.
    The Windows phones have definitely done it for a year.  

    In Canada, SIRI is a sad marketing JOKE,  anything you would to use it for with respect to location does not work, LOL.  Even though all the same things work manually if you type it into the map function, for some reason they couldn’t do that for Canada, so we wait after getting sucked into a phone that is pretty much the same as a 4G, perhaps we will get the full SIRI function before the iPhone 5 comes out, LOL.  I blame this issue on the French though, it is most likely some stupid political language thing even though 95% of Canadians prefer English.

    Bottom line, Apple is great at marketing to its irrational fans, but detail to detail comparison, SIRI is not that big of a deal.  That does not mean they might do something more that makes it a big deal, they are calling it a Beta after all.  But for now, it really isn’t much compared to what is out there, I think they are hyping it because Apple dropped the ball on the iPhone 5.   SIRI will need to do much of the functions on the phone to ever compete with Android or the Windows phones in the future.

  • Pingback: Voice Dictation Battle: Apple’s Siri vs Microsoft’s Tellme [VIDEO] | iPhone in Canada Blog - Canada's #1 iPhone Resource()

  • JP

    As usual, Microsoft is out to lunch. And which era did they pull Andy out of?

  • Wintersdark

    Siri is indeed flawed, but only in that there are wrinkles to iron. Siri is a glimpse of awesomeness to come.

    It’s not voice commands. Voice commands in and of themselves are old tech and generally fairly annoying to use.

    No, there are two parts of Siri that push it far and above MS and Google’s offerings:
    1) Siri is fully integrated across the OS. You don’t need to be in the maps app to get directions, or in the calendar app to set a reminder, or in the web browser to search google.
    2) Natural language parsing. This is what takes voice commands to the next level. The usability difference for an average user is enormous, not having to carefully phrase everything. Without natural language parsing, voice commands are terrible.

    Until such a time as Google or MS come up with an anthromorphic, natural language parsing voice command later to their respective OS’s, they have nothing remotely like Siri.

    It’s almost shocking how they both keep letting Apple get these huge head starts, while ceaselessly burying their heads in the sand.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, i’m not impressed with Siri right now. i’m french Canadian and it doesn’t understand when there is noises around, sometimes it don’t understands the meaning, etc…

  • Sheeps345

    doesn’t the droid 3 or RAZR have something similar to siri too? I saw some video of an android phone vs the 4s and it had it

  • aaa

    and now there’s Cortana.

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