Can Siri deal with Australian accents?

January 2, 2014

Based on the recent experiences of one of my loyal readers, Siri has trouble interpreting simple commands spoken in his ‘educated Australian’ accent.

He had a new iPhone and wanted to know how to close an app as it wasn’t the same as on his previous iPhone, so he asked Siri.

Here’s how Siri responded to that request (note that his spoken words were correctly converted to text, but even then Siri went off on the wrong tangent — how Norwegian Krona got into the mix is beyond me… and him!):


So the next day he asked Siri to show him the manual so he could find out for himself, and got this ‘helpful’ information (I’m not sure why there’s a blue dotted underline beneath the word ‘the’, one of the most common words in English):


Perhaps Siri thinks it’s all powerful and has totally superseded the manual to the point where it doesn’t believe there *is* a manual ;-) Sort of like ‘ethnic cleansing’ for potential usurpers to the throne of (mis)information.

It looks like voice recognition still has a way to go…


  1. Hey! No great mystery Rhonda as to how kroner came into the picture: Apptix ASA is a company of Norwegian origin. Mystery is really how that arose from “app” when it’s such an “in” word in this context. One would think that an Apple-based system would know about “apps”. But then, I don’t know how broad or otherwise your friend’s accent is.

    You don’t say how much practice your friend had given Siri in recognising his particular voice. To be fair, voice recognition systems these days do work a lot better if they are given a chance to “learn” the idiosyncrasies of the speaker. A lot of people skip over this bit in the documentation (such as ’tis — but that’s another story). Many just expect these systems to work out-of-the-box, as though they (the systems) aren’t babies, when in fact, that’s more or less what most of them are.

    So maybe all your friend has to do is sit down for hours on end chatting to his phone and correcting its mistakes…

    Someone soon might wake up to the fact that these systems might best be designed to load in a range of learnt patterns that various different speakers have taught them, to save the rest of us the angst of our accents. It could well be a handy secondary market.

  2. Thanks for your response, Peter. The person this happened to reads this blog, so hopefully he’ll take on board some of your suggestions.

    I don’t have anything Apple, so have never tried Siri. And it was many years since I last tried voice recognition software, but I agree that most people would expect it to work ‘out of the box’ and will get frustrated if they have to spend hours training such software to recognise their voice/accent. You’re right — it might be a handy secondary market ;-)

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