When it comes to smart-home speakers, the first names that come to our minds immediately are Google Home and Amazon Echo. While imagining Apple entering these waters doesn’t seem impossible, given how the company masters almost anything it thinks it will — a former Apple employee begs to differ.
According to a report by Wall Street Journal, a few Apple ex-employees and a developer (claiming to be an engineer behind Siri) stated that Apple’s recently-launched HomePod has a long way to go to match Amazon Echo’s capabilities. “Amazon had figured out how to isolate voices from background noise and have a digital assistant respond to requests from a distance—abilities Siri hadn’t yet mastered. People at Apple’s anxiety level went up a notch,” said a former member of Apple’s Siri team.
Another ex-employee told WSJ, “In the years since, former Siri team members say, progress has been slowed by a failure to set ambitious goals, shifting strategies and a culture that prioritizes user privacy—making it difficult to personalize and improve the product. The project also has suffered from the departures of key team members, some of whom went to competitors. About a year after Mr. Jobs’s death, Apple hired Bill Stasior, an Amazon search executive, to oversee Siri. Mr. Stasior studied artificial intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his expertise was in search rather than speech or language. This led some members of the Siri team to believe he didn’t fully appreciate the product’s original vision: to expand beyond the iPhone to third-party apps.”
Brian Roemmele, a developer who attended WWDC spoke about the limited and delayed access of Siri, “People went from being happy and excited to sitting in workshops and realising, I can’t use it. Some went back to that attitude: Siri’s always going to be dumb.”...