Siri has become Apple's Bing. It's time for an AI-inspired change

As Apple promises to venture further into AI, the name Siri -- and the assistant itself -- just doesn't feel right any more. For very good reasons.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

Apple isn't perfect, you may be surprised to hear.

And Siri is a fine example of the company's deepest imperfections.

When Siri first came out, you wanted to give it a chance. You wanted to believe this truly was an intelligent assistant who would understand your questions -- and your needs.

Also: 7 reasons I use Copilot instead of ChatGPT

Instead, time has proven that -- all too often -- Siri doesn't quite get it. Sometimes, it doesn't get any of it. 

It reacts when you haven't asked it anything. It also hears things that you simply haven't said. And its answers can range from the unhelpful to the downright bewildering, especially, if -- like me -- you have something of an accent.

Worst of all, the brand name "Siri" has become something of a joke. Spend some time with anyone who has Google's hard-working assistant and they'll likely chuckle when you try to invoke Siri. (Yes, you can still chuckle that they only get a green bubble in a text conversation.)

Hey Siri, let's talk about Microsoft

Yet now, and urgently, Apple is thrusting itself further into AI. Cupertino already claims its on-device AI is better than GPT-4. The name of its on-device system? ReALM (Reference Resolution As Language Modeling), apparently.

Not very memorable, that. Yet still, so rumors have it, this on-device AI will exist to help Siri on iPhone 16, rather than remove the name from the public ether.

Also: I changed these 10 iPhone settings and improved battery life dramatically

Many of those who claim to know insist it'll be "AI for Siri."

I worry.

When Microsoft embraced OpenAI, the first essence to emerge was that the product would be called Bing Chat.

Perhaps someone at Microsoft themselves started to worry that associating Microsoft's AI with the name "Bing" didn't quite offer the sense of a tangible breakthrough.

Before Bing Chat became a thing, it was transformed into Microsoft Copilot.

Also: Apple builds a slimmed-down AI model using Stanford, Google innovations

Microsoft's official reason was, according to the company's director of communications Caitlin Rouston: "Our vision to create a unified Copilot experience for consumer and commercial customers."

But Bing, too, had become a thing of humor -- whether that humor was justified or not. Because of Google's dominance, Bing felt like a struggling search engine in search of a retirement home. It seemed clear that a trite name with a less-than-competitive product wasn't an ideal mix.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is a strong brand -- one that's become both more important and more likable in recent years. Add the notion of a Copilot to it and it suddenly feels like something with which you want to be involved, something that has a chance to be your true companion, something that might actually be good.

Meanwhile, Siri connotes the phrase "You cannot be Sirious."

Hey Siri, say goodbye

Siri enjoys a Reddit thread entitled: "Siri is pathetic. How is this allowed to happen???" One of the better-known Apple acolytes, Jim Dalrymple, was recently moved to muse: "Siri has done what no person could for 30 years: Make me stop using an Apple product."

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT isn't the only one worth trying

It's surely time, then, for Apple to focus its larger and more agile brains toward a new promise -- an AI assistant that you can trust to get the basics right, surprise you on occasion, and even inspire you with its inner knowledge. One infused with new AI technology. (Apple will insist it's "revolutionary.") One not called Siri.

It's not just a matter of enabling better personalization, more intimate human conversation, and enhanced trust. It's not just a matter of launching a "New, improved Siri. Now with better AI."

The true challenge for Apple is to help its customers forget Siri entirely and believe that the company has generated a whole new AI-driven world inspired by Siri's replacement. (A robot replaced by a better robot. Imagine that!)

Also: Apple's new AI model could understand your home screen and supercharge Siri

This replacement should have a new name -- Cuper or Cooky anyone? -- that'll make people believe Apple has finally mastered the AI assistant thing and created AI for tomorrow, rather than from yesterday.

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