In June, it will be three years since Apple announced Siri for macOS. And I realized recently that I’ve used the digital assistant on my laptop maybe three times in total since then.
To be fair, Siri didn’t arrive to the public on Macs until September of 2016, so I’ve still got some time to use it a few more times before that anniversary rolls around. I just don’t see it happening. I have fired the feature up a few times today, so I guess I should count that, but I was testing it for science. I wanted to see if Siri could handle the majority of tasks I typically ask of the digital personal assistant.
Turns out Siri on Mac can’t set a timer. Which is weird! That seems pretty simple.
There is an argument here that Siri should have feature parity across the devices where the digital personal assistant is available, and I think that is very much the case. Now, I can’t say for certain whether that is happening with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa because I don’t use those options all that often. (I never use Alexa.) But I think it’s safe to say that one of the major strikes against Siri from folks who gauge this sort of thing is the fact that Siri’s functionality isn’t universal from one Apple device to the next.
Maybe you don’t need to set a timer on your Mac! And maybe your Mac doesn’t support “Hey Siri”, so just yelling out “Hey Siri, set a timer for x number of seconds or minutes” and hoping another device hears your request is easier than hitting a key combination on your keyboard. Whatever the case, it still seems strange that Apple is trying to build a universal digital personal assistant for its ecosystem, but hasn’t quite rolled out all of the features for all of the devices.
(There was a bit of snark in there about the yelling bit. I can honestly say that Siri does pretty good in hearing me on the HomePod. On the iPhone XR? It could be a bit better.)
I actually like Siri. I’ve been a fan of the digital personal assistant feature since Apple championed it all those years ago. I can fully admit that competitors have passed Apple in this regard, but I can also tell you that, for the most part, Siri is basically all I need in a day-to-day digital personal assistant. I set timers. I may set a reminder (which you can do on the Mac!) or two. I check the scores on teams I follow. And . . . that’s about it. I don’t usually ask Siri a question about something, mostly because I have my phone or I’m on my computer and I can just search that way.
But I can understand why Siri might be a letdown in some areas for someone who does want to do more. So having Siri be available in more places, on more devices, is a good thing. It’s safe to say that Google and Amazon definitely understand this, because those companies are including Assistant and Alexa in just about everything they can. Siri on the Mac makes sense, and not just because it’s another Apple-branded device that should have Siri on it.
It’s not like the features for Siri on the Mac are all that limited (aside from setting a timer). You can open apps! You can even ask Siri to find certain files, play music from Apple Music, and if you have Siri find something you can drag-and-drop that content into something you’re working on. Siri is helpful and the digital personal assistant makes sense on the Mac.
I thought I would be using Siri on my MacBook all the time. That is definitely not the case. And yes, it may be because it doesn’t support “Hey Siri”, but even if it did I think the HomePod would answer before the Mac anyway. And for the majority of things I ask of Siri, I prefer it that way.
So, coming up on the three year anniversary of Siri arriving in macOS, I’m curious: How often do you use Siri on your computer? Has the digital personal assistant become a daily staple for you? Or, like me, have you just generally let the feature fall by the wayside?