Let's open with a reality check: Siri is still in beta. Apple's new voice recognition service is just getting started, and many of us have found out the hard way that Apple's definition of "beta" is closer to what many other developers would call "alpha." That having been said, The Daily Mail's reports of Scottish accents flummoxing Siri still had us trading Sean Connery jokes back and forth in the TUAW newsroom.
According to The Daily Mail, numerous videos have surfaced of Scottish users trying (and failing) to interact with Siri. One tells Siri, "Gonnae no dae that," which Siri interprets as "Going Akila." Siri interprets a Scot's charming "Can you dance with me?" as "Can you dutch women?"
Siri's confusion doesn't stop at Scottish accents, of course. My father's wife is from the Philippines, and Siri has difficulty understanding her. I'm quite curious to see how Siri responds to me; my accent has become a somewhat corrupted melange of Pacific Northwest English and New Zealand English. Apple's more primitive predecessor to Siri, Voice Control, correctly interprets my commands only about 75 percent of the time.
Somewhat predictably, the paper tries to spin this as a disaster for Apple -- "Disgruntled messages have littered gadget websites and forums" according to the Mail. That response comes across as reactionary and a bit unfair, especially since one of the YouTube videos embedded on the Mail's own page (and embedded below) shows Siri reacting to a Scottish accent with rather impressive accuracy. Of course, another video shows a Scot trying to get Siri to "create a reminder" for close to two minutes without success, so the service definitely has some room for improvement.
Despite decades of work, voice recognition software is still basically in its infancy. I think my dog probably understands some spoken commands better than Siri does despite all the work that's gone into the software. Then again, my dog is a genius, and Siri has been in public beta for less than two weeks. Give it some time to scale, and eventually I'm sure Siri will far exceed my greyhound's ability to interpret verbal interactions.
It may even exceed my abilities someday -- I have a Scottish friend in Christchurch (hallooo Stuarrrrt), and I can understand maybe one out of every five words he says.