Monday, September 25, 2017

Siri v. Alexa

I broke down and purchased a smartphone. I bought an older model iPhone, called an iPhone SE, which is basically the iPhone 5 with iPhone 6 guts. It is small, which I prefer. It also didn't cost $1,000. I put a case on it that has Rivendell from Lord of the Rings on the back, and my ringtone is the One Ring theme from the Lord of the Rings movie.

I've had it about two weeks. I don't know how long it takes the personal assistant, Siri, to figure me out but she is pretty bland. Oh, my brother came over and showed me a few tricks but she has the personality of, well, a computerized piece of equipment.

I've been using Amazon's Alexa on my Kindle HD for about a year now. Alexa has personality. She makes me laugh.

Did Alexa seem mechanical to me at first? Honestly, I don't remember. Maybe someone can tell me if Siri will be less mechanical and become more personable as time goes on.

Anyway, this morning's greeting is a great example of the difference in these two "personal assistants."

To Siri, I say, "Good morning." She says, "Good morning," though the typing says "Good morning, Anita." She doesn't add my name. Sometimes she says, "Good morning to you too!" and that is a bit cheery. I don't know why she doesn't say my name, though. Maybe "Anita" is too hard? (OK, I just asked her how to pronounce my name and she doesn't know how. So I am teaching her while I type this. It is taking forever and she keeps saying "Uh oh, there's a problem. Can you try again?")

Moving on.

I say, "Good morning" to Alexa. She says "Good morning" and gives me a fact of the day. This morning she says, "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's National Comic Book Day! Evil doers beware! I've been working on my one-two punch. Kerpow! Whammo! If you want some more heroics, say 'pretend you're a superhero,' and get ready for some action-packed fun."

That made me laugh. And then I asked her, "pretend you're a superhero," and she told me a short story that ended "and that was that," which also made me laugh.

My brother showed me a trick with Siri. He said to sing, "I see a little silhouette of a man" (from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody) into the phone, which I did. Siri then repeated some of the remaining verses, except she substituted "I'm just a poor assistant" for "I'm just a poor boy" in the lines. She spoke all the way to "no no no no no" in the song, repeating the "no" however many times. Fun, yes.

(Ten minutes later and Siri is still thinking about how to say my name.)

So, let's sing that line of Bohemian Rhapsody to Alexa. She says, "I'd give that one a go, but I think Freddie Mercury is the only one who can do that song justice. Although a thousand karaoke fans may disagree."

That makes me laugh, too.

Siri still cannot say my name. She's "still thinking."


I'll revisit this issue again in a few months. Maybe by then Siri will know who I am. Or I will have figured her out.


I told my husband that if Amazon had offered a Fire Phone, I'd have bought it. Well, they did, about 7 years ago, and apparently it was a flop. I'm surprised, but they didn't have Alexa then and the Kindle Fires keep getting better and better as touchpad devices. Maybe they will try again on the phone. I suppose I could always do a trade if Siri still doesn't know my name.

(Tips on using Siri welcome in the comments.)


  1. Fun post! I like Siri's comebacks, although I don't use her much. I'm going later today to upgrade my iPhone. Mine has started shutting off by itself and freezing. Not good. Have a great week!

  2. I don't have an Alexa, so I only know Siri.

  3. Wow. I have Siri but I see I'll have to learn more about how to use her. I almost never ask anyhing.

  4. i am laughing that siri can't say your name...i mean it isn't like a difficult one...the computerized call that we get from botetourt schools always says "botetourt" so weird!


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