Siri Should Be Able To Handle A Stutter

In fact, Apple touts using Dictation and Siri to get things done by just asking.

In theory, that sounds wonderful, and the perfect solution to my problem. In my case, however, the issue with using my voice to do things on my devices is the fact that I stutter. My speech impediment, yet another side effect of my cerebral palsy, makes it difficult for iOS to accurately parse my requests. I often am frustrated by the errors that come back (e.g., in Siri’s case: “I didn’t get that”), so I figure it’s easier (and ironically, faster) for me to type instead of hampering an already-limited speech-recognition system with a limitation of my own.

I know that speech-to-text is an extremely challenging area, and that Siri is already leaps and bounds ahead of anything the public has ever before had such easy access to, but despite all that, it remains a fact that Siri, and the whole dictation system in iOS, is just not good enough. It's certainly a useful feature, but for Apple to have proclaimed Siri as one of the flagship features of the iPhone 4S when it was released in 2011 was ridiculous.

Siri should be able to handle a stutter. Maybe not a bad stutter, but as Steven says further on in his article (which you should go read all of, by the way), his stutter is only mild. Mild enough that no one ever has trouble understanding him, and most people aren't bothered by it at all. If Apple wants Siri to be deserving of all the attention they've given it, it should be able to understand any speech that is easily understood by any given human. Even pulling back from actual speech impediments, Siri should be able to understand even simple mistakes in ordinary dictation. If I make an error in my dictation and immediately correct myself, in a way that any human would understand and not be confused by at all, Siri should be able to understand the correction, and should make the appropriate changes to the text output without me having to completely repeat the message or manually change the text. At the very least there should be a way to make corrections through dictation to the red underlined words which Siri already believes may be errors and has alternate suggestions prepared for.

Siri and iOS dictation should have the ability to handle things like obvious corrections in dictation or minor stutters, yet at this point even talking in certain accents can confuse the system. It is obviously not an easy task to accomplish, but with the power and wealth of Apple behind the effort, breakthroughs to allow such powerful dictation could really be made. Then, finally, Siri could become something that Apple could truly brag about. A feature that would really draw people to the iPhone, and something that would keep them there because it was so incredibly useful. Until people can truly talk to their iPhones with complete confidence that they aren't wasting their breath, Siri will, for the majority of iPhone users, remain a side feature.