New Yorker sues Apple: 'Misleading and deceptive' Siri ads

Is the ol' girl getting dumber? Woz says she is


A New York man has filed a class-action suit alleging that Apple's adverts and claims about its Siri voice-activated info system are bunk, guff, bosh, and bull – and no, that's not the name of the law firm he has hired.

That firm is Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which wrote in its complaint lodged in the federal court in San José, California, that "Defendant's advertisements regarding the Siri feature are fundamentally and designedly false and misleading."

The plaintiff, one Frank Fazio, bought his iPhone 4S in November of last year, wooed by Apple's representations in ads and other material that touted Siri's wonders. "Plaintiff would not have paid the price he did for the iPhone 4S," the suit explains, "had he not seen these representations."

The suit specifically mentions Apple ads that show Siri helping an iPhone 4S owner to find restaurants, make appointments, tie a tie, and "even learn guitar chords to classic rock songs," with the songs cited as being London Calling and Whole Lotta Love – classics, indeed.

In Fazio's experience, Siri is no sartorial aide or rock-god coach, but instead just a useless idiot. "The iPhone 4S's Siri feature does not perform as advertised," the filing reads, "rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive iPhone 4."

Fazio discovered that Siri was a bit of a clod soon after purchasing his iPhone 4S. "For instance," the filing notes, "when Plaintiff asked Siri for directions to a certain place, or to locate a store, Siri either did not understand what Plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer."

The filing does recognize that Siri is still in beta – but doesn't cut her slack for that designation. "Buried in Apple's website is the amorphous sentence: 'Siri is currently in beta and we'll continue to improve it over time'," the filing notes, but uses that buried admission to argue that Apple knew that Siri was a dummy before it released the iPhone 4S, yet still extolled her brilliance.

The Reg's experience with Siri was limited to an hour or so of playing with it when the iPhone 4S was first released, and we were not overly impressed with her accuracy or usefulness. However, a recent article in Cult of Mac points out that the ol' girl's capabilities have faded noticeably since her debut.

"Siri – a beta by Apple's own admission — is quantifiably dumber, less intelligent and less useful than it was just five months ago when it first launched," Cult of Mac contends, and cites the words of no lesser a light than The Other Steve – Wozniak – as proof:

I used to ask Siri, 'What are the five biggest lakes in California?' and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, 'What are the prime numbers greater than 87?' and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate. I'll be saying, over and over again in my car, 'Call the Lark Creek Steak House,' and I can't get it done.

Cult of Mac theorizes that Siri's senility is due to Apple throttling the compute power it devotes to question-and-answer processing because of the high demand that the iPhone 4S's success is putting on its servers. "It's like notching down the playing power of a chess computer: Siri is spending less time each turn 'thinking' about its next 'move'," they write.

Interestingly, Fazio's opinion of Siri's smarts was already lawsuit-level low last November. We can only imagine what he now thinks of her as she reportedly slips into digital dementia. ®


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