Here’s Why I’m Tired of Saying ‘Hey Siri’

2 minute read
| Editorial

You don’t have to say “Hey Alexa,” Cortana just dumped the “Hey,” and it’s time for Apple to do the same with Siri, too.

Here’s the deal: When you issue commands to a voice assistant like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, or Cortana, you need to speak a trigger word to start the interaction. With Siri, that’s “Hey Siri,” and with Google Assistant, it’s “OK Google,” or “Hey Google.” With Alexa, it’s just “Alexa.”

Amazon’s approach to triggering its voice platform has always made sense. You’re addressing to your Echo or other Alexa-compatible device in the same way yo do with real people.

If I want to have lunch with Bryan, for example, I’d say, “Bryan, let’s get lunch together.” I don’t start the conversation with “Hey Bryan.”

Siri’s Hey-filled History

Saying “Hey Siri” back in 2011 seemed fine because Apple’s voice assistant was still a beta feature, and something of a novelty. There wasn’t that much you could use Siri for compared to today, and the occasional “Hey Siri” wasn’t a big deal.

Fast forward to 2018 where Siri lives on my iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, and now Apple’s smart speaker HomePod. Siri is controlling my home, scheduling meetings, playing music, and more. Siri has become a regular part of my daily routine and isn’t just a toy. Interacting with it should feel as natural as talking to a real person.

Prior to the HomePod, invoking Siri meant I needed to pick up my iPhone or iPad, or if I was wearing my Apple Watch, lifting my wrist. That created a barrier of sorts that I didn’t have with my Amazon Echo. As a result, I started relying more on Alexa because I could simply talk to the air.

How that the HomePod has a permanent place in my livingroom, I’m talking to Siri a lot more. The problem is talking to Siri doesn’t feel as natural as talking to Alexa. Why? It’s because of the “Hey.”

Making Siri More Human

The solution is for Apple to drop the requirement to say “Hey” when invoking Siri. It should continue to support the old-style trigger because lots of people are used to it so “Siri” and “Hey Siri” both work.

HomePod with Siri

This is all about making our interaction with voice assistants feel more natural and, well, human. Every time I say “Alexa, turn on the lights,” it reminds me just how awkward it feels now to say, “Hey Siri” instead.

Here’s my request, Apple: Add a surprise feature to iOS 11.3 that drops “Hey” when invoking Siri. It’s all about making our voice assistant interactions feel more natural, just like we’ve always had with Alexa, and now with Cortana, too.

12 Comments Add a comment

  1. Castro

    Jeff, you read my mind. I am going to similar situation at home.

    Everyday, my wife comes to the door after work and say “Siri, open front door” not thinking she had to say “Hey Siri, open front door”. Then she will repeat it by saying it correctly.

    I always wondered why she does that but it totally makes sense.

    I do not own any Echo but have many google home units in my house so I’m used to saying ‘hey whatever’.

    BTW, I’m in Canada and Apple short changed us on the HomePod. Hopefully they add Canada to initial release list in the future. We are neighbours and close trade partners after all.

    Anyways, good point and hope Apple does surprise us soon.

  2. makeitup

    Usually, when I ask Siri to do something with “hey Siri”, the conversation almost always ends up with “hey Siri, why are you so frigging stupid!”. Talking to Siri is pointless, “hey” or no “hey”.

  3. skipaq

    Hey, Jeff. Good point that makes sense to most of us. We’ve had a HomePod for a couple of weeks and “HEY” it gets tiring. So I’ll try a plea: “Hey, Apple. Get the “Hey” out now.

  4. Lee Dronick

    I don’t find it that burdensome to use Hey Siri instead of just Siri. It probably also helps keep the device to responding to a similar sounding word.

  5. John

    You’re reading my thoughts to be sure. We’ve all been taxed by excessive “hey”. I’ve long maintained that Apple needed to do something about this as it’s cumbersome and literally twice the required input as it’s rivals.

    It seems to me that Apple has little popular choice than to stick with Siri, as it’s a branded convention. With that in mind, we all occasionally suffer Siri’s confusion when summoned by saying words that closely resemble “Hey Siri”. To incredulously ask “seriously” of a family member or friend and have a device chime in is not my idea of convenience or progress. Or worse yet, when our televisions and radios elicit it’s response. To me they’re almost mini-indignities by now. I’ve grown tired of it.

    Our knee-jerk reaction is to simply drop the “hey”. Sounds good to me… But what about the downside. I’m of the belief that Siri’s name possess too little conversational uniqueness and latitude that would reliably enable it to be called upon by only “Siri” without even more confusion. That leaves me believing that “hey” was a necessary qualifier to reduce unsolicited responses.

    Now that Apple’s this far along with Siri it’ll be very interesting to see how this shakes out. Because it has to. Personally, I don’t see just “Siri” unless things become individually voice dependent.

    Another thought would be to allow us to rename it. Worthington, Belvedere, Jarvis, anything. Revolutionary. I’ve bought this assistant and think I should be able to name it as I please.

    I could be wrong and often am.

  6. Scott B in DC

    Sure… let’s make it all creepy with someone or something listening on the other end.

    Did you hear about Amazon devices laughing at people? Is someone listening in?

    It doesn’t matter what you want to say to these things. I don’t trust any of them and they will not be part of my environment. Sorry… I value my privacy more than that!!

  7. skipaq

    Renaming is an interesting idea. It could also be the way HomePods could be set up for multiple users.

  8. francini@mac.com

    Actually, I’d like it to be something I can define, rather than just ‘Siri’. I’d be more apt to set it to ‘Computer’, so that it’s closer to the Star Trek way of talking to the ship’s computer.

  9. gGrant

    Siri seems to respond to anything that sounds like Siri, whether there’s a hey in it or not… Apple is only one non-bugfix away from granting your wish.

    What they really need to do is let me choose which device…
    Watch do this
    Pod do that
    Phone do the other
    Mac do anything, please

    preferably by the name I’ve given each device.

    Now, that’s a wish.

  10. paikinho

    I wish I could just say Please, turn on the lights! or Turn on the Lights Please.

    Then when they are on I should say thank you or they would go off again.

    Great way to teach kids their Please’s and Thank You’s

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