Apple is said to be working on changing the wake phrase for its Siri voice assistant, and will change the phrase from ‘Hey Siri’ to simply ‘Siri’. This will make it much easier to invoke the voice assistant on supported devices once implemented, but the change is said to be a technically challenging one since it involves AI training and a lot of engineering work, as per the report. More words in the phrase usually makes it easier for voice assistants to understand the invocation of the voice assistant, so implementing this properly will be a challenge for Apple.
The report comes via journalist Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter on Bloomberg, and states that Apple has spent the past several months working on shortening the wake phrase. Siri has for long supported voice invocation through a wake phrase, which has thus far been the familiar ‘Hey Siri’. The company is now working on making the phrase ‘Siri’, similar to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, that is invoked by simply saying ‘Alexa’.
Longer phrases are typically less prone to errors, and shorter phrases might be said differently according to languages and accents across the world. Apple is said to have factored these challenges into its work, and is already testing the simplified phrase with company employees. If all goes to plan, we could see Apple products, including those on iOS, macOS, WatchOS, tvOS, and HomePod devices, work with the simplified ‘Siri’ wake word.
A significant challenge for voice assistants is miscues – phrases that sound similar to the main wake phrase tend to wake the devices and have them listen for commands. This is a frequent issue for smart devices and smartphones that have always-on microphones, as it can cause devices to react even when no response is expected. Shorter wake phrases typically increase the chances of these miscues, but are admittedly a lot easier for users who frequently use them. Siri serves as the default (and in some cases, only) voice assistant on many of Apple’s devices, including the HomePod mini and Apple Watch range.
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