back to article Apple slapped with second Siri senility lawsuit

Apple has been slapped with a second class-action lawsuit alleging that its ads for the iPhone 4S's Siri voice-activated search feature constitute false advertising. "Through its nationwide multimedia marketing campaign, Apple disseminates false and deceptive representations regarding the functionality of the Siri Feature," …

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  1. User McUser
    Unhappy

    Siri's lack of context is annoying

    Here is why I don't like Siri: no context. Everything works great if you get it right in the first go, but if you mess up you have to start the whole dumb command over. "She" appears to have the memory capacity of a gnat as evidenced by the following exchange (paraphrased):

    Me: Siri, create a new meeting with Bill tomorrow at 4PM.

    Siri: Here's your new meeting: [Meeting, Bill, 4PM tomorrow] OK?

    Me: Wait, change that to 3PM.

    Siri: Sorry, I don't understand "Wait, change that to 3PM."

    Me: *sigh*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i am amazed

      That anyone really believed the hype surrounding Siri, I'm even more amazed that people bought into so easily, I'm even more astounded that they think it is a reason to sue over, and I am flabbergasted a law firm has taken it on.

      Thank god for our education system here in the UK, something that appears to be lacking in the US where maybe they need lessons on common sense.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: i am amazed

        "Thank god for our education system here in the UK, something that appears to be lacking in the US where maybe they need lessons on common sense."

        Seen the queues at the petrol stations?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " Seen the queues at the petrol stations"

          , look what happened when Orson Wells put out War of the Worlds. Now that was proper panic....

          Still you get an up vote from me, because petrol queuers are an embarrassment to us all.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Happy

            "Petrol queuers"

            Is that what "mouth breathers" are called now?

          2. dotdavid
            Meh

            War of the Worlds

            "look what happened when Orson Wells put out War of the Worlds"

            What, very little?

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15470903

          3. auburnman

            I don't think that's entirely fair on some of the petrol queuers - once the panic starts it does make a certain perverse sense to join in if you do need some petrol (obviously those with low tanks, not nutters trying to fill jerry cans). you can be part of the problem, or you can walk round town until the supply chain catches up to the accelerated demand. It's a bit like a run on a bank - if everyone's taking out their cash, taking the moral high ground does you f all good if you can't get money out later.

        2. Britt Johnston

          Re: common sense

          It may be Britain's most valuable resource, but it is becoming increasingly hard to extract.

      2. P Saunders

        Re: i am amazed

        People believe because the ads told them so. I'm neither here nor there with Apple or Siri but if you advertise something amazing as doing something incredible and it turns out it doesn't do that something incredible properly then consumers have a right to be pissed off, or in the case of the USA, sue somebody.

        1. Peter 48

          Re: i am amazed

          Anyone who takes any advert at face value in this day and age needs their head examining. Or they should come see me. I have some excellent deals on London Bridges for them :)

          1. Audrey S. Thackeray

            Re: i am amazed

            "!Anyone who takes any advert at face value in this day and age needs their head examining."

            Perhaps, but equally any rich company making claims in an advert that can plausibly be shown to be misleading needs their marketers' / lawyers' heads examining.

          2. Bullseyed

            Re: i am amazed

            "Anyone who takes any advert at face value in this day and age needs their head examining. Or they should come see me. I have some excellent deals on London Bridges for them :)"

            I don't generally bother with people who can't speak English, but...

            Any advert that cannot be taken at face value is illegal and grounds for a lawsuit.

      3. Skizz

        Re: i am amazed

        "Thank god for our education system here in the UK, something that appears to be lacking in the US where maybe they need lessons on common sense."

        Well, my kids primary school (age 5-11) is now "An Apple School" and they want all the parents to buy their kids iPads.

        1. Lallabalalla
          WTF?

          Re: i am amazed: AN APPLE SCHOOL

          AN APPLE SCHOOL??

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: i am amazed: AN APPLE SCHOOL

            Having seen a lot of the underfunded, badly implemented, badly maintained, crap that passes for IT in schools, I can believe some might look for alternatives. Unless they're getting a seriously BIG discount though, I can't see a move off of Windows (where the majority of the ICT software stack lives) being a clever one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: i am amazed

          Bringing the teacher an apple has taken a whole different meaning these days, hasn't it?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: i am amazed

          Change school.

          No school should be allowed to force parents to provide a fragile £500 device for a child just to provide education.

      4. DJ Smiley
        Headmaster

        Re: i am amazed

        How about thanking the lawmakers and watchdogs that stop Apple falsely advertising over here? :)

    2. Franklin

      Re: Siri's lack of context is annoying

      To be fair, natural language processing is a tough nut to crack on the best of circumstances, and asking a computer to figure out the referent to "that" in that kind of situation requires much more cognitive nimbleness than you might think. Computers are still pretty primitive beasts, and natural language processing on computers is still pretty dicey.

      I don't use Siri or any of its competitors; I don't really think that computers are at the point yet where they can be expected to process language with the agility that people want them to.

      1. dssf

        Re: Siri's lack of context is annoying

        Talk in monotone like a computer. Remove extraneous words. Enunciate clearly. Speak with an even pace.

        That is the nimbleness that a lot of users lack. People jacked up on coffee and dragged down on doziness won't help. Especially long or gnarly accents. (In ~93, I figured that out when dealing with the then-newfangled auto attendants and voicemail/auto response systems. The best fun was dealing with the one that only took button presses, but said "Oh" instead of "zero"; "There IS NO extension: two-three-six nine-five-five seheven-three-ohh-two ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh-ohh" Til the company president snapped for me to knock that off and to turn down the speaker volume, heheheh....)

  2. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Pint

    Dear Woz ...

    ... Back in 1976 I bought your new Apple ][. The "Red Book" code had some penciled in changes. I assume you put them there. I know you are thinking ... he never writes, he never calls ... ok sorry, let me make amends.

    Siri works wonderfully for me, but I had to teach her to say "do you want fries with that?" at the end of every session. I suggest Apple do the same (no I didn't patent the patch).

    Here's the thing: Siri is a "personal assistant", but that is still a social position far below the most overworked, underpaid, and need I say, under appreciated waitress. Apple knows well that slaves are Chinese, you own a bunch of them, but when you suggest that Siri is worth anywhere close to that waitress she'll spit in your soup, rich guy, you can count on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sorry

      I don't speak drivel...

  3. Jeebus

    So is the complete uselessness of Siri its only selling point because everything else they've said about the thing is absolutely and completely false, and given all the lawsuits most people think the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LOL, yeah sure, enjoy that world you live in. 53 million customers and some skank lawyer thinks he will win a lawsuit over a beta product being a beta product.

      1. bobbles31

        I have a car for sale, has a self drive function, first of it's kind. You just tell it where to go and sit back and go to sleep.

        If Honda ran this ad with a link to a website that contained a link to a page explaining where to find the basement with no stairs and a locked cupboard with a filing cabinet containing a piece of paper where the statement "the auto drive thing is a Beta product" on, they would (and rightly so) be sued into chapter 11.

        The Ads I have seen with Siri in, show it as being a unique selling point. Unique selling points should really live up to expectation.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        ROLFMAO

        I reckon some 'skank' lawyer has a fair chance of winning a law-suit over a beta product being sold as a USP, if those adverts are misleading. Beta, or otherwise, false advertising is false advertising. Apple put so much spin on their products that it was bound to come to this sooner or later. They might get away with it this time, but even if they do, they won't learn, and they'll get caught out eventually. How much the lesson costs them in the end is another matter. I would imagine the only winners will be lawyers.

  4. a_been

    Yawn

    Can't we just have an Apple section or even better an Apple lawsuit section.

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  7. Alan Denman

    Who else has got it?

    The whole point in having an Apple is having something others do not have. Obviously the excludes the millions of other individualists/

    So whilst Sire might be useless and Retina could makes for squinting hey no one else is going to copy it. Well for our sake, let's hope not.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Who else has got it?

      Actually there are several Siri clones on Android. I haven't used any of them so I can't say whether they work any better or not, but they do exist.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who else has got it?

      Oops, too late for your wish. Google already started their photocopiers on that one:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/16/google_siri_will_be_called_majel/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who else has got it?

      Yeah, I guess you are right, that must explain it, all those 10 of millions must be deluded for not agreeing with some arse-wipes opinion that Apple can't produce an objectively good product ever. I just wonder what level of Dickery we will descend to in the comments before the idiots become embarrassed.

    4. Bullseyed

      Re: Who else has got it?

      "So whilst Sire might be useless and Retina could makes for squinting hey no one else is going to copy it. Well for our sake, let's hope not."

      You know that the "Retina" displays are designed and manufactured by Samsung, right?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Encroaching Senility

    The comments at the end of the story that Siri used to be capable of listing prime numbers over 87, but now just gives you places to find prime rib, make me wonder if it was designed to be "learning" from usage data.

    Since the majority of people are astoundingly, mindbogglingly stupid, it should be no surprise that Siri is now beginning to reflect the minds of its users.

    They should have only let it get training data from their own employees. Soon Siri will be automatically ordering cases of Pabst and initiating sports streaming video.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Encroaching Senility

      It's the constant stress and the unreasonable mental workload. It's Siri that should be suing Apple.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      They did this in Star Trek

      There are infinitely many prime numbers greater than 87. Each time Steve Wozniak asks Siri for them, it starts another everlasting process to work them out. Soon this will be the only thing that Siri is doing.

      In Star Trek somebody finally invented a computer, unfortunately an evil one, that could recognise a stupid question and ignore it.

      1. Ralph B
        Gimp

        Re: They did this in Star Trek

        Siri is that evil computer. She's recognized that Woz's question is stupid, checked his chubbiness, reviewed his tastes in restaurants via his credit card history, and therefore suggested he might be happier tucking into a steak.

      2. NogginTheNog
        Happy

        Re: They did this in Star Trek

        "There are infinitely many prime numbers greater than 87. Each time Steve Wozniak asks Siri for them, it starts another everlasting process to work them out. Soon this will be the only thing that Siri is doing."

        Like Ediie The Computer making tea for Arthur Dent?

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

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

          As far as I remember - radio version, anyway - Arthur Dent locked up the Nutrimatic Drink Machine, and then the spaceship's main computer, by asking the drink machine a rhetorical question - "do you know -why- I want a cup of tea" - causing it to go nuts trying to calculate the answer.

    3. Colin Millar
      Trollface

      Re: Encroaching Senility

      Let me correct your reverse logic

      "Since the majority of 'Siri users' are astoundingly, mindbogglingly stupid"

      (Yes - I am going for a personal best)

  9. Old Handle
    Devil

    Damn those misleading false misrepresentations!

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Suit has merit & "that" is a solved problem

    "That anyone really believed the hype surrounding Siri, I'm even more amazed that people bought into so easily, I'm even more astounded that they think it is a reason to sue over, and I am flabbergasted a law firm has taken it on."

    Apple fanbois believe anything they are told.

    As for being astounded, why? False advertising is illegal, so if Apple is misrepresenting the functionality of their product in an ad, then people have a case to sue over it. Scientific and R&D advancements bring new products onto the market all the time, it's not up to the customer to know "Oh, well, language processing hasn't advanced that far yet." It's up to the advertiser to not claim the product does things it can't do. Not saying they should win, or whatever, but certainly there's cause to potentially sue.

    "To be fair, natural language processing is a tough nut to crack on the best of circumstances, and asking a computer to figure out the referent to "that" in that kind of situation requires much more cognitive nimbleness than you might think. "

    Infocom had that problem licked by the late 1970s for the common case. See Zork and almost every interactive fiction ever made. It's not tricky at all to look back 1 item in a conversation, to understand "Schedule foobar at 4PM..... Make that 3PM." means you want to schedule foobar at 3PM.

  11. Spud2go
    Pint

    If people are getting angry...

    ..because their phone doesn't understand them - they need professional help.

  12. zanto
    Angel

    Dear Jones

    you're holding it wrong

    sent from my e71

  13. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Lucky Mongolians, Nepalese, Urdu and Swahili people ...

    they avoid the frustration as Siri doesn't speak their languages.

    I am surprised no one has complained about their horrendous data bills OR the lack of capacity to handle Siri communications.

  14. krkr8m
    Facepalm

    You draw the line at Siri?

    You paid for a Porsche, got an old model VW Bug, and you are complaining that the seats don't lean back as far as promised. You should be grateful that you have been given the great honor of being in the same room as an iPhone. What is wrong with you?

  15. Oliver Mayes

    Siri can do any of the following things for me:

    Open the weather app and show the location I ask for (about 50% of the time)

    Tell me the time in other time zones (about 40% of the time)

    Tell me what the time is 'here' (about 10% of the time, it uses the GPS to figure out where 'here' is and keeps getting it off by about 20 miles then telling me it doesn't know the time in *address across town*

    Do a google search (roughly 70% accuracy)

    Play songs or albums from my library (pretty good 90% accuracy but then there is a set word list there)

    When I see the advert that shows people checking their email and messages or asking where their brother is (presumably he had to check into the place first?) it makes me angry that they can blatantly lie about it's capabilities like that and get away with it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two timing

    Soon we'll see furtive looking fanbois in seedy bars, booking cheap hotel rooms and having illicit liaisons with Android phones telling them 'She doesn't understand me'...

  17. g e
    FAIL

    Siri is beta?

    From all the guff surrounding it I thought it was a finished V1.0, just the 'beta' thing alone is misleading, surely, given the hype that emanated from Cupertino's marketing strike clones.

    Never mind the fact that it doesn't actually do what is claimed to the standard that is claimed/implied.

    "There is no SiriGate". OK, we'll pay out. History repeating ?

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick
      Joke

      Re: Siri is beta?

      Yes, apparently the alpha-Siri's have told it to sit down and shut up several times, but to no avail. Now the lawyers are involved. Transportation to Australia and WiFi-only loom in the future, I'm afraid.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never used it

    I didn't buy an iPhone for Siri. If you have half a brain you know that the computing power required for this work cannot live inside the iPhone, so you end up exporting your life to Apple's servers, plus a nice voice print to accompany all the other data they already have on you. On Android clones it's even worse because you have little idea what they do with the data (Apple has at least been reasonably sensible with my personal data - up until now - but it's still a US company).

    So, thanks but no thanks. I can do perfectly without Siri (et al).

  19. Peter 48
    FAIL

    Why sue?

    As much as I would like to see Apple (one of the vilest tech companies out there) get hammered, this lawsuit is utter nonsense. So SIRI doesn't work as advertised (and you were gullible enough to believe that in the first place). The only reasonable course of action (if this was your main reason for purchasing) is to return the phone as not fit for purpose and get a proper one instead. Win Pho 7 and Android all have perfectly functioning voice interaction. But a lawsuit? This should be kicked out of court immediately and the plaintiff slapped around the head with a couple of herrings.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Adverts in UK

    STILL being used by Vodafone as a prime feature in their adverts.

  21. Bram
    FAIL

    Beta!

    Siri seemed like the biggest thing about the new iPhone and its in beta! Not good and a little under handed. No other tech company would do something as risky as this, as it is not uncommon for betas to scrapped

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Beta!

      Siri's a gimmick for the gullible, but I would like to point out that another tech giant's favourite thing in the universe is to keep production products in "beta" for years so they don't have to concern themselves with such petty concerns as whether or not they work correctly.

      How many years was Google Maps in beta, anyway?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Beta!

        How much did google maps cost while it was in Beta? How much does it cost now?

        1. mamsey

          Re: Beta! - How much does it cost now?

          Actually, quite a lot... they've just changed their business model.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monkey Dust

    Anyone noticed how Siri sounds like the Classically Trained Actor in Monkey dust?

    http://tinyurl.com/cqrwrzs

  23. clean_state
    Thumb Down

    not in beta but in R&D

    Claiming that Siri is in beta is trying to make people believe it will get better once released. However, the underlying tech is simply not nailed down yet. This is ongoing R&D and I would even say that the R&D is pretty much stalled. We are at 20% of where we need to be to have a computer truly understand spoken language and chances are in 10 years, we will be at 21%. If what Apple claimed in their advert was true, it would be a groundbreaking, earth-shattering, mind-boggling advance in AI science. Unfortunately, it is just marketing hyperbole. They deserve to go down for false advertisement.

    1. stanimir

      Re: not in beta but in R&D

      20% is beyond optimistic.

  24. Euchrid

    As The Reg noted....

    "As The Reg noted in our coverage of the earlier lawsuit, others have complained that Siri is not only crap, but getting crappier."

    Maybe so, but The Reg's reviewer noted something else: "It’s highly sophisticated and though at times it seems to be a glorious, cool gimmick, this will change.... [in summing up product] the upgraded performance and coolness of Siri and the improved camera are pretty compelling"

    I don’t think I saw any bad reviews about Siri and seem to recall that all were good or glowing. (It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of reviewers, not El Reg’s, mind, did say that Siri was in beta and some said that Apple had been very clear about this. )Perhaps it’s not just Apple’s adverts that were “fundamentally and designedly false and misleading”?

    Were these reviewers talking out their proverbial or was there (at least some) honest reporting going on?

    If user experience is inconsistent, it’s a shame that there doesn’t seem to be any actual research by hacks. Similarly, although there are claims that Siri’s performance has taken a hit (servers being unable to cope is one reason that’s been touted), I haven’t read much in the way of researched articles. Surely publications are missing a trick here? Then again, slapping ‘Apple’ in a headline is guaranteed linkbait – two out of the top five articles for ‘Most read’ and ‘Most commentated’ this morning are Apple stories – so why bother?

  25. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    I purchased my iPhone to make phone calls. I care not if it talks back to me.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      So you're not completely disappointed then, just mildly disappointed

      After all, the iPhone is a little better at voice calls than it is at Siri.

    2. The Baron
      Happy

      I totally know what you mean. I bought my 253mph Bugatti Veyron to trawl to the local shops and back - not really fussed if it's good at high speed cornering or whatnot like you see in the adverts.

      I do occasionally wonder if I should have saved some money by buying a Fiesta instead though.

  26. Crisp Silver badge
    WTF?

    Marketing Snafu

    They should have marketed it as an "Entertainment" app. Selling it as a Personal Assistant was just asking for trouble when it cannot perform as advertised.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "How much did google maps cost while it was in Beta? How much does it cost now?"

    Except Google sell ads - the provide Maps 'free' as a way to push even more ads - like a pub not charging you for use of the pint glasses.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ?

    "When I see the advert that shows people checking their email and messages or asking where their brother is (presumably he had to check into the place first?) it makes me angry that they can blatantly lie about it's capabilities like that and get away with it."

    I use it to check my emails and messages quite regularly.

    It's never managed to correctly tell me where my brother is, but as I don't have one that's more of a philosophical question than anything else.

    I'd agree that Siri is a bit rubbish, but the complaint being leveled by the lawsuit is that it *can't* do the stuff in the advert, which is clearly something that can be proven one way or the other in court.

    I could buy a motorbike, but I can't ride one and that wouldn't give me the right to sue the manufacturer for making claims about the bike being able to take me places.

    (Yes, yes, lots of downvotes.)

  29. Nick De Plume
    Coat

    Totally justified lawsuit

    The advertisement was indeed misleading.

    Siri was the primary "selling point" Apple was trying to make - passing off a functionally and visually identical device "as the new best thing". (other "s" enhancements under the hood were a mild point release, and neither apparent nor relevant to an ordinary buyer).

    Let alone Siri is a piece of code capable of running perfectly well on a lowly 3gs (or indeed any device with a sound input and an internet connection, since the processing is done on the server side)

    ----

    Being labeled as beta, or the difficulties of natural language processing are beside the mark. If a product is not capable of performing as advertised the maker of the product is liable. Plain and simple.

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