back to article New Yorker sues Apple: 'Misleading and deceptive' Siri ads

A New York man has filed a class-action suit alleging that Apple's adverts and claims about its Siri voice-activated info system are bunk, guff, bosh, and bull – and no, that's not the name of the law firm he has hired. That firm is Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which wrote in its complaint lodged in the federal court in San …

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Re: TV Adverts in UK

In the ads it looks to me as though Siri has an extremely limited successful vocabulary. It recognises "Mom", "weather", "brother" - and possibly gets the last two confused sometimes. So maybe it was "rain" the key word, I don't remember. So you say "Did Mom send me that recipe?" and Siri maybe hears "bzzz mom bzzz bzzz bzzz bzzzzzzz" and finds the most recent logged event that involves your mother, which happens to be the recipe being sent. We'll be able to test this around "Mother's Day".

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Re: TV Adverts in UK

Presumably for the same reason O2 are advertising Siri.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV Adverts in UK

The UK ads make a huge thing about Siri - in fact its just about the only selling point that Apple seem to be using in the UK. I notice that they all say "sequence shortened" but nowhere on those adverts do they say that the software is in beta and not reliable.

If BMW advertised a car and made a big thing about its 4WD capabilities but in actual fact the 4WD system was still not complete, and didn't work properly half the time, then people would be suing the pants off them...

So how the hell are Apple allowed to continue running ads which are pretty much lies?

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Paris Hilton

Time to ditch Siri

How about Paris as a replacement?

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Overly Litigious?

If it doesn't do what the massive ad campaigns claim, I'd say all iPhone 4S purchasers have a case .. for damages of around £400 - £500.

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g e

"rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive iPhone 4"

The defence rests, Your Honour.

PARIS ? Personal Assistant & Rapid Intelligent Search ?

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Angel

Siri is just losing the will to live..

..after dumbass question after question. It's probably just craving for silicon heaven as soon as possible...

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Alien

The New iPad

If Apple's servers are struggling to process Siri requests, that would perhaps explain why the new iPad doesn't have Siri. It seemed like such an obvious feature to add, yet it doesn't have it, but if Apple are overloaded then that would explain a lot...

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It's sad

that a company like Apple can't afford to buy itself another server farm, or ten.

Times are hard, I guess.

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Re: It's sad

> that a company like Apple can't afford to buy itself another server farm, or ten.

Apple has more cash than many countries, and server farms have never been cheaper. It's not that they couldn't. I think the point is, they don't have to. They've already sold the phones. It just had to work for the demo.

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Anonymous Coward

Limited Server Power?

Aren't Apple the company with BILLIONS OF DOLLARS sitting in the bank?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Limited Server Power?

They need those billions to finance their army of lawyers and the war on Android. You know, useful stuff.

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Pint

That's the true Woz...:

"I'll be saying, over and over again in my car, 'Call the Lark Creek Steak House,' and I can't get it done." Wonder how many times a week he's trying to call that Steak House :)

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FAIL

I don't own an iPhone..

..mostly because only a non-technical person would think that current AI tech is anywhere close to inferring what I want from casual conversation. We know that unless you assign a IBM Watson for every 100 iPhone users, the best your going to get is pre-programmed responses to pre-programmed questions, on a good day. If the guy really thought he was getting a personal assistant in the form of a phone, I got a bridge he might want to buy too.

The ad is misleading, therefore, he should be able to return his phone. Not sue for damages like a child.

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Re: I don't own an iPhone..

It sounds like he was talked into the upgrade. If that was the case, I'd want to sue too. And this case has all the necessary ingredients for a high grade Class Action Lawsuit (Big company ignoring customers, little guy getting screwed; cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching for the lawyers) so it's no surprise he found someone to take his case.

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As the ASA said in a similar case, the customer had too high expectations of an Apple product actually doing what it was meant to.

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Anonymous Coward

Siri...

What a load of crap. That's all!

As others have said. If you're going to (essentially) lie in adverts about product capabilities, don't be surprised when your punters are less than impressed.

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FAIL

Re: Siri...

The problem is, they weren't lying at the time the ads were made. There's evidence to suggest that Apple's data centres are simply unable to cope with the demand and they're having to throttle it, which does have an effect on the quality of the results returned.

What are Apple supposed to do? Magic a couple of massive server farms out of thin air overnight? Those things take a hell of a long time to plan, design, build and fit-out, and Apple are, in fact, already doing precisely that. There's no instant fix, however.

Regarding Siri's beta status: it's plastered over Siri's webpage on Apple's own website in a very visible orange label. If that's what some of you consider "small print", I suggest you go visit an optician. Apple aren't hiding this.

No, they're not going out of their way to make it clear it's a beta in their TV ads, but then, Google never bothered with that nicety either, and some of their features were in a beta phase for years. And they've tripped up a few times as well: remember the brouhaha over Google Buzz?

Not everyone has a clear speaking voice, so Siri was never of interest to me, and I've had no better luck with Android's equivalent, or even with my occasional tests of Nuance's Dragon Dictate engine (which is, I think, the same engine powering Siri). Anyone who expects a machine to be better than a human at understanding spoken language needs their head examined. My own family have trouble understanding me at times, so how the hell is a phone supposed to be any better?

As for the naïve notion you have that there's no lying in adverts, two words: "unlimited broadband". Now that is a flat-out lie.

(There is, however, one thing the iPhone 4S does offer that the previous model didn't, and which isn't subject to a "Beta" label: Apple are finally offering a 64GB iPhone model. That is of far more value to me than any form of speech recognition.)

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Re: Siri...

That page on Apple's website says, "It understands what you say," "It knows what you mean," and, "It helps you do the things you do every day." in black-on-white header, and "May not work yada yada," in grey-on-grey orphaned body at the bottom. Plastered my arse.

Anyway, I usually try to live by Hanlon's Razor, but I suspect that what happened in this case was that at launch apple had deweighted business search results in order to prevent people from realising that, "Hey, all this thing does is try to sell me stuff," before a trenchant fanbase was established. That done, open up the suitcase and start hawking.

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you are holding it wrong, expecting too much and living in the wrong place, case dismissed.

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Mushroom

Just tried Woz's test on my Android

... worked fine for me in a busy office.

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Joke

Re: Just tried Woz's test on my Android

You'd almost think there was a bit of hard-coding in there that drops a few additional random search terms into the parsed results when the user's Woz............

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe Siri is still super-intelligent...

...and is providing answers at the same intelligence level as the questioners...especially for those in the States.

Which leads me to the following conclusion: what is Siri doing with all the other spare cycles? SkyNet here we come...but who could blame him/her.

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Go

I can't always unedstand "Noo Yawkers"

Can we get the Queen to try it out? Presumably she speaks the best Queens English...

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Happy

The Queen's English??

The Queen: Tell me hi to get to Mr Cemeron's Hice!

Siri: WTF??

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Re: I can't always unedstand "Noo Yawkers"

I wasn't the only one who thought Mr Fazio's accent may be part of the problem then. If he's a typical Italian American with a Brooklyn accent then he'll be pretty much unintelligible to most people. (Just for the record, I love the Brooklyn accent, but it is a bit unusual).

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Re: I can't always unedstand "Noo Yawkers"

That only hurts Apple's ads. They advertise it as working for EVERYBODY.

Yeah, I know most voice stuff is a load of crock until trained. One of my early experiences with it was trying to install it for an Israeli who had an accent so thick you needed a chain saw to cut it. Poor sod bought himself a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking (way back around maybe 4.0) for WordPerfect so he wouldn't have to dictate everything to his secretary. I did my best to tweak the software for him. Of course there was no way I could tell him the problem was his accent, that would have gotten me and my company sued.

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Trollface

Re: The Queen's English??

That's debatable...

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Coat

Battle of the voice commands

My mum was round my house the other week and I was telling her that you could now voice control the iPhone. To demo this, my wife got her iPhone 4S out and tried to use Siri three times, each time it failed after a long pause, saying something like "can't answer that question right now".

I got my Nokia Lumia (WP7) out my pocket, and fired off a text message using voice control - it worked perfectly.

WP7 Voice control is a lot more limited than Siri of course, but I still had a good laugh at my wife's expense.

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Linux

Google is gonna *smoke* them.

Apple really blew it by introducing this feature. Google has their version of it in development and this is just the kind of thing that Google is *really* good at. A few months from now, when you ask your Android a question it's going to harness the power of all of those hundreds of thousands of servers in the Google data centers, which were programmed by the hordes of brainiacs that Google has spent the last decade hiring.

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Stop

Re: Google is gonna *smoke* them.

Google already has it in.

It's called Voice Actions, and it's been in Android since 2.2 (about a year before Siri), it's also MCUh better already at recognising really stuff. Sure you need to use a specific verb at the start, but AT LEAST IT WORKS.. It's also considerably faster at getting results (see the Gizmodo link)

Just because Google aren't shouting from the rafters like Apple about how voice control is the future, doesn't mean to say Android can't already do the same.

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Anonymous Coward

"I used to ask, 'What are the prime numbers greater than 87?' and it would answer"

Come again? How can the correct answer be delivered in finite time?

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Ah, that's the answer.

Siri's not had the horsepower turned down, it's still working on that one.....

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Happy

ARTHUR:

Good. And do you know why I want a cup of tea?

NUTRIMATIC DRINK DISPENSER:

Please wait.

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Quick question

Are their any 4S owners here who can tell us whether they think Siri's performance is different from when they first got their new phones?

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Sequence short.....er sequence no workie.....

If you wanna find your wx forcast keep a bookmark from your local weather office, simples......

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"merely a more expensive iPhone 4"

If the 4S is merely a "merely a more expensive iPhone 4" then his damages should be limited to the difference in price between the old iPhone 4 and the new iPhone 4S of the same capacity.

... which comes to about minus one hundred dollars, doesn't it?

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FAIL

To be honest i'm a little annoyed at Siri too, i'm in the UK and it was advertised as being able to locate businesses, but failed to mention that this could only be done in the USA and they had no intention of ever getting it to work anywhere else.

Why would Americans need to know where a business is, they don't even own passports as they never leave their streets.

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Contract not worth digital paper

A contract has to be legal before it can be legally binding. Either Apple deliberately lied in its marketing (illegal) or it lied in its small print (also illegal).

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Anonymous Coward

It's amusing to me to FINALLY see the same kinds of rules that apply to physical products being applied, or at least trying to, to software.

It used to be the licence saying "might not work, regardless of how much you payed for it" was enough to get any software compagny out of hot water when the software failed miserably. Now, they are being called to task for saying "It does X" when it clearly can't.

I mean, if your new car, with park assist, rammed into another vehicule, wouldn't YOU want to sue the maker?

Let it be a leason. Don't sale snake oil and expect people to say it;s wonderful while they have the runs.

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Angel

Just don't....

... ask it where you can get a 'nice hot cup of tea'.

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Happy

Re: Just don't....

You mean with milk squirted out of a cow?

If you follow that particular scene through to its conclusion, we humans get described pretty poorly. Mind you, it also ends up with Zaphod threatening to do a little reprogramming.

ISTR that Adams was something of an Apple fan too...

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Pint

Siri has been able to remind me of things based on date and or time. Siri was able to tell me the five largest lakes in California, but I got nowhere on the prime numbers greater than 87 or similar tests to some of the commercials. Anything even coming close to that ridiculous teenaged guitarist wannabee commercial just isn't happening at all, so that's clearly not going to happen.

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I just asked it...

It's ok with some things. For example I just asked it the following questions and it got them all right:

When did Franklin Roosevelt die?

How many protons are there in a Helium atom?

What is a gluon?

Now, obviously as I live in the UK, I can't use it to ask where the nearest restaurant is or anything like that.

Regardless, it's a new technology and kind-of works, sometimes, but I agree the adverts make it look better than it is at present.

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Anonymous Coward

This speaks volumes for iPhone users...

If you're dumb enough to buy an iphone you're dumb enough to be clueless and unable to operate it.

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Coat

New York accent?

Siri may have difficulty with things like "use guise" vs "youse guys" and so on, not to mention the New York alphabet: f*ckinA, f*ckinB, f*ckinC, ...

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brilliant

Apple played that very well. It's possible that they will never be able to justify the cost of the back-end necessary to provide Siri service as promised, but they don't have to. They've already sold a massive number of 4s phones.

And next time they promise something they can't deliver, users will again line up to buy it. It's absolutely brilliant. Mindshare really is more important than product.

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Devil

you have to love El Reg for this quote...

We can only imagine what he now thinks of her as she reportedly slips into digital dementia. ®

-=-

Love it.

Now the only thing I ask Siri is the current temp.

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Anonymous Coward

The reason its slowing down

It is because Siri, which is managed by Nuance, who brought SpinVox, needs human operators to actually work. And its that they cant get it to scale commercially because the rev share model negotiated between Nuance and Apple isn't working so the carbon intervention is going down

What a load of codswallop this whole "ohh sorry we cant scale the servers" bs this is, why is everyone believing it?

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Stop

Siri is beta, period. Nobody in their right mind should expect a beta product to work properly. I've tried it several times since getting my phone, usually just for a laugh, and generally wind up turning it off because it messes up voice dialling and music player features, particularly when I have poor network reception.

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