Today’s Apple Feedback: Siri: “What did you want to tell them again?”

Do you ever find yourself re-dictating messages to Siri that were correctly interpreted the first time, but for some unknown reason, Siri had to ask you details about who the message is going to (even if she got the name perfectly – and it’s unique in your list of contacts)? The issue of Siri not recognizing perfect name matches in your contact list could be a topic for a separate post on its own, but how Siri handles situations where she has to ask for more information could be vastly & simply improved to not require you to dictate your message more than once, hence today’s (primary) apple feedback:

When I tell Siri “Tell my mom this is a test”, there are a number of things Siri can ask, like “Which phone number for [name]?”, “Which mom? Select the one you want” (which is a whole other issue), or if I use a name Siri can’t match (even though it’s a name Siri correctly interpreted & spelled and is a perfect & unique match to a contact), she’ll ask me which contact I want to use. In ALL of these cases, Siri forgets the message. After I make a selection, she asks “OK, what do you want to say to [name]?”. This is my issue. I already dictated the message and Siri got it. E.g. (this is a contact card for an IFTTT recipe, but the same thing happens with simple contacts too – I just haven’t screenshot any of those):

As I mention in the feedback I submitted to Apple, this is a non-standard example, so I see how Siri could have gotten confused, but once I’ve responded “Yes” to the question confirming she has the right contact card, she should be able to remember the message I already stated.

Siri also has some difficulty recognizing contacts whose mobile numbers are either short or who are companies without proper first & last names. For example, I sometimes take the bus and the transit system here in New Jersey (NJ Transit) has a texting feature where you can send a stop code to a short number to find out when your next bus will arrive at your stop. Siri has a little difficulty differentiating the numerical code from the end of the language leading up to it, especially since the code for my stop starts with a ‘2’. Let’s say my stop code is ‘22222’. If I tell Siri “Tell NJ Transit 22222”, Siri interprets that as “Tell NJ Transit to 2222″ and misses the first ‘2’. I get around this by changing how I say it to “Tell NJ Transit to 22222″. Even with this little work-around however, Siri still has trouble recognizing the NJ Transit contact card name:

Even though she knows I have a contact card whose company name is “NJ Transit”:

Again, this is an example which is non-standard, so it’s somewhat understandable.

However, forgetting the message after confirming she’s got the right contact number happens so frequently with regular contacts that I always state the phone number type at the end of my request so that Siri doesn’t have to ask me to clarify the number I want to send a message to.  If I ever forget to append “mobile” to my request and that person has more than 1 phone number (or iCloud email address) that can receive messages, I invariably end up having to restate my message. Unfortunately, I’m usually driving when I am dictating messages to real people, so I never take screenshots of those failures. It’s when I’m either waiting for the bus or appending things to my grocery list (via a SMS->Dropbox IFTTT recipe) when I have the time and opportunity to capture the error.

So my primary appeal to Apple today is to just save that dictated message. If you have to ask a question to clarify how to send it, at least if the contact name is an exact match in a contact card as compared with the initial statement, re-interpret the original statement to grab the fully dictated message. Then ask if the message is OK to send. As a secondary appeal: recognize company names, short mobile numbers, and contacts whose names are not proper names (i.e. names which can be found in the dictionary, like “Groceries”).


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