Something Went Wrong in Siri’s and Apple Maps Development, Again

Tech writers keep coming back to Siri again and again. The latest being The Information’s scoop on, yet again, what went wrong with Siri’s development.

John Gruber on Siri September 2017:

Siri, as it stands today, is at best a halfway product. Again, I’m pro-Siri in the voice assistant debate, but even so I think it’s generous to describe it as “halfway”. The whole category is garbage, Siri included. And frankly, it just doesn’t feel like Apple has made as much progress in six years as they should have.

Something went wrong in Siri’s development, and it wasn’t the voice quality.

John Gruber on Siri March 2018:

The gist of The Information’s story is that Siri has existed for seven years without cohesive leadership or product vision, and the underlying technology is a mishmash of various systems that don’t work well together.

I wrote back in September that Siri’s and Apple Maps problems are one and the same. Gruber didn’t agree. That’s OK but the approaches and resulting organizational problems, where to focus and execute, really are one and the same DNA.

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To paraphrase Steve Jobs, yet again, mistakes and problems are not a problem if Apple can find ’em and fix ’em. There is an important point in The Information’s story that Gruber mentions but fails to recognize:

Several former employees said Mr. Williamson made a number of decisions that the rest of the team disagreed with, including a plan to improve Siri’s capabilities only once a year….Team members said they argued in vain that that model was wrong for Siri, which they believed needed to be an online service that continuously improved, not updated annually.

Siri and Apple Maps never learned to walk and chew gum at the same time. Improvements are kept for the annual WWDC rollout, a strategic mistake that only adds to the public perception that Siri and Apple Maps never improve, which is not true.

If Apple simply ditched the annual improvement cycle for Siri and Apple Maps public perception would change for the better. The real work is long term but fixable. Mobile Me was a disaster and iCloud had a difficult birth, but iCloud did eventually learn how to walk and chew gum. Siri and Apple Maps can too.

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egword Universal 2 Available for Download

egword Universal Mac App Store

After a 10 year absence the best macOS Japanese word processor app has finally returned. egword Universal 2.1 is available for download from the Mac App Store in Japan. The price is ¥7,800 with a special offer of ¥3,800 until April 30.

egword Universal was a major re-write of the original Japanese DTP workhorse app and the world’s first macOS word processor built top to bottom with the then brand new CoreText framework in 2007 featuring the very best Japanese typography. Norihito Hirose of MONOKAKIDO bought the rights to his program in late 2017 and has been hard at work bringing the code up to date.

Read my profile of egword Universal and its long journey back to the marketplace. I look forward to reviewing it, again.

Congratulations Hirose san!

Another CoreText Crime?

John Gruber notices that smart punctuation was mysteriously working then not working in iOS 11 iMessage:

But if I’m right about why, then why does it apply to iMessage messages — a.k.a. blue-bubble messages — too? iMessage messages aren’t limited by the antiquated constraints of SMS in any other way, so why limit them typographically?

As Gruber notes, SMS messages are out of the question, but considering that the last 2 iMessage text crashing problems have been CoreText crimes, this smells like yet another.

One reader tweeted that Apple needs to fuzz the hell out of CoreText but I think that is a dead-end that will just go on forever. A CoreText reboot is the better long-term solution and use of limited engineering resources.

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egword Universal 2 Available for Pre-order

 

eg word Universal 2 Mac App Store

egword Universal is now available for pre-order on the Japanese Mac App Store.
The special launch price is ¥3,800 for a limited time. MONOKAKIDO‘s Hirose san says that even though egword Universal 2.1 runs on El Capitan and above, the Mac App Store limits the download to macOS 10.13.2 and above.

egword Universal 2 Returns to macOS March 14

egword Universal 2.1 AnnouncementSomehow it seems entirely appropriate that with CoreText under fire, Norihito Hirose of MONOKAKIDO announces the official return date of the very first top to bottom CoreText app, egword Universal 2.1. Longtime Japanese fans who created countless documents on the Mac only egword Japanese word processor app are overjoyed. egword was always praised for its Japanese typography quality and speed. The software was an integral part of many Japanese print operations.

egword Universal 2.1 will go on sale March 14 on the Mac App Store for ¥3,800. I don’t remember the exact 2006 pricing but it at least twice that. I hope to talk with Hirose san before the release date and write a blog post. It will be fun to hear about his return journey with egword and where he plans to go with it from here.

Congratulations Hirose san!