After a number of studies and reports have indicated that Siri is underperforming competitors, Apple appears to have made a distinct push to hire Siri engineers, with a 24 per cent increase since mid-February, at 161 positions, according to Thinknum, a web platform for data collection and analysis. This is an impressive near 100 per cent increase from the same time last year.
According to a study by Loup Ventures, Apple’s Siri, operating on Apple’s HomePod device, was only able to correctly answer 52 per cent of 782 standardised questions, as compared to Google’s Home speaker, which correctly answered 81 per cent of the questions, and Amazon’s Echo, which scored 64 per cent on the same test.
Furthermore, the intelligent home assistant device is reported to have damaged wood surfaces due to the compounds used to make its outer shell reacting poorly with lacquers, oils, and waxes coating wood furniture.
While Apple is changing the materials used to build the device, a far more substantial effort in software engineering is also required to upgrade Siri. Lacklustre sales of the HomePod device will have added to pressure on Apple to improve its software, as evidenced by the marked increase in Siri related positions in the last month.
Siri’s inability to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home with simple and practical tasks, such as answering common questions or ordering food, has put HomePod at a distinct disadvantage, compared with cheaper AI-based digital assistants.
Apple is reportedly going to be adding a variety of jokes to Siri’s databanks. Let us hope they aren’t too funny, lest people drop their cooking in fits of laughter. While this might make Siri a little more personable, and might help the device’s sales performance marginally, underlying issues will need to be resolved first and foremost.
Apple’s aggressive recruitment drive makes it evident that the company is acutely aware of the product’s shortcomings. Most of the openings are to be based at Apple’s highly secretive headquarters in the Santa Clara Valley, “Apple Park campus”, with hiring focussed on various IT engineering skillsets. J
ob titles include Siri – Software Engineer, Siri – iOS Engineer, Infrastructure Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer, and Natural Language Processing Engineer. The recruitment drive represents a near doubling of positions available since the same time last year, but with a distinct jump in February this year. This is excellent news for software engineers with relevant and in-depth experience, but also for consumers who may see exciting strides being taken for Siri.
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