CNET gets it wrong about Siri

CNET has erroneously suggested that Apple “rigged Siri to name iPhone best phone” in response to last week’s non-story in which Siri accurately reported data it received from Wolfram Alpha:

“As of yesterday, the voice assistant is firmly back in Apple’s camp. When asked the same question, Siri now responds: ‘The one you’re holding,’ or ‘You’re kidding, right?'”

“Yesterday” being May 14, 2012. Wrong, CNET. You are wrong. Here’s a post from the Mac Observer Forums in which a user describes Siri providing a humors answer to a now infamous question:

“Depending on how I asked ‘What is the best smartphone?’- I got either ‘You’re kidding, right?’ or ‘You’re holding it.'”

That post is date stamped October 17, 2011. Here’s another one, posted to YouTube on November, 2011, just one month after the iPhone 4S’s release. Perhaps CNET defines “yesterday” as “seven months ago.”

Meanwhile, Nokia spokesperson Tracy Postill told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Apple position Siri as the intelligent system that’s there to help, but clearly if they don’t like the answer, they override the software.”

Right, Tracy. It would be a brillant move for Apple to censor Wolfram Alpha data to meet its own marketing goals.

Postill’s quote illustrates another error. Both CNET and Nokia are seemingly unaware of where Siri’s answers come from. In short, Siri pulls from several sources, including Apple’s servers, Wolfram Alpha and Yelp. When it responded to The Next Web’s query with “Nokia’s Lumia 900,” it returned results from Wolfram Alpha. The “joke” answers (and yes, they are jokes) like “The one your holding,” come from Apple’s servers. Here’s a video of Siri providing humorous answers to 96 questions (recorded in 2011). Finally, if you ask Siri for the best Italian restaurant in town, its answer will come from Yelp.

Apple has given Siri a sense of humor because it humanizes the service and helps users feel like less of a tool while conversing with an inanimate object. It was a very clever move. Apple did not, in any way, “rig” Siri to name iPhone the best phone. If CNET or Nokia believe that Apple is afraid of losing iPhone sales to loose-lipped Siri, I have a bridge in New York that’s for sale.