By Dan Moren
February 22, 2018 2:49 PM PT
Why can’t Siri answer flight status questions?
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
Siri is a thread that runs through all of Apple’s platforms now, and it has subtly different features on most of them. At best, this means adapting to the particular vagaries of each device–for example, Siri on the Mac can look for files, while Siri on the Apple TV can understand jumping to particular timestamps or turning on captions.
But sometimes there seems to be a divide even on a single device.
Here’s a little experiment for you. Bring up the search field on your iPhone and type in a flight number–for example, WW126. Near the top of the results will be an option to bring up flight status. Tap that and you’ll get a nice little map of the flight as well some other info, like destination, duration, and so on.
Now, try asking Siri for the status of the same flight. I’ll wait.
Right. You’ll notice that Siri doesn’t seem to know anything about flight status, and instead goes straight to a web search.
How bizarre is that? The information is there, and Siri can clearly correctly parse the query; it just either doesn’t know how to hand it off or there’s some other weird reason it can’t.1
My default assumption is that there are byzantine rights issues involved in cases like this. Or, in short, the reason is “lawyers.”
Technically both the voice assistant in iOS and its search are powered by Siri’s intelligence, so it’s odd that the features don’t line up. I’m sure there are other examples of situations like this–let me know if you’ve found some. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]
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