Lots of people dislike voice assistants. Blame Siri

Conversations with robots are still pretty crummy. Anyone who’s had to bark at Alexa three times to turn off the lights knows this irritation quite well.

Now a new study from Adobe, released Thursday, provides some insights into how much folks use voice assistants and how much they like — and dislike — them.

 

In all, 37 percent of people surveyed for the study described interactions with voice assistants as either “not good” or “terrible.” The same percentage of people rated voice assistants positively, and the rest described them as “okay.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.

 

A big reason for these less-than-stellar numbers is Apple’s Siri, an underachiever that’s single-handedly dragging down consumer expectations for voice assistants, said Adobe Digital Insights analyst Tamara Gaffney. The study backs up this claim: Adobe’s review of billions of mentions on social media finds the fewest positive comments for Siri among all available voice assistants. An April study from digital marketer Stone Temple also showed poor results from Siri.

 

“I’ve personally found Siri to be crap,” Gaffney said.

Apple representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

The lousy showing for Siri could turn into a bigger problem for Apple. The tech juggernaut in December plans to release its new, $349 HomePod smart speaker, with Siri playing an important role in the device. A bad digital assistant running the gadget could depress sales.

 

More broadly than that, Siri may be souring people to using voice assistants overall, perhaps slowing down adoption of voice computing or causing more people to switch from Apple products. Now could be a critical time for voice assistants, as the technologies are inching into mainstream use. In all, 22 percent of respondents in the study said they use a voice assistant daily instead of a keyboard. But 49 percent of the 397 people surveyed said they never did.

 

Apple, of course, does have a chance to improve its digital assistant in time for the holiday shopping season.

“The Apple masses are waiting for voice to get better for them,” Gaffney said. “They haven’t missed the gate yet, but they have to get a better product pretty quickly.”

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