"What's the best cell phone ever?" Siri: Lumia 900

The Siri voice recognition system on the iPhone 4S has been the subject of many unintentionally funny moments since it launched in October. Now it looks like an answer to a particular question is making Siri, and Apple, look a little foolish today. WMPoweruser.com reports that when a user asked Siri, "What's the best cell phone ever?", Siri responded with Nokia's Lumia 900 as the answer.

How did this happen? In this case, Siri accessed the search records of Wolfram Alpha and brought up the cyan version of the Lumia 900 as its answer to the question, based on the solid reviews that its customers have given the device. Of course, this answer could change depending on if other smartphones get more favorable user reviews. At the moment, however, all those Siri users can look forward to having the software recommend the Lumia 900 when they ask Siri that question.

It also shows some of the limits of Siri itself, which was touted by Apple as the iPhone 4S's biggest new feature. For example, user reviews can be heavily biased at times. Siri could have accessed smartphone reviews from the media, which are supposed to be a bit more objective in terms of examining the pros and cons of a device.

Image via WMPoweruser.com

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51 Comments

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I'm surprised no one is pointing out what the actual bug is.

Wolfram Alpha is calling something a products the best [blank] ever based on the average of only 4 reviews. That is way too small of a pool of reviews. It should only consider products that have minimum of something like 10 - 25 reviews, so the average will actually be a useful and accurate number.

if Apple or Wolfram Alpha patches this in any way, it'll make them look dishonest. a lot of people will start questioning some of the results Siri presents to them.
if Siri stops producing statistically accurate results (which from what i see is what it does).......

Apple might just patch it to do its joke responses (like what it does when you ask it the same phrase without the "ever" at the end).

I have a friend who's dating his iPhone's Siri and he's really serious about it and urges me to make dinner conversation with her...

Does Siri work?... meaning you should get the Nokia Lumia 900, or is it wrong, which suggests Siri does not work well

Actually, I can't get it to do this. When I ask it the exact question in the OP, I get listings of cell phone vendors nearby.

Elliott said,
Actually, I can't get it to do this. When I ask it the exact question in the OP, I get listings of cell phone vendors nearby.

Maybe "you are asking it wrong"

Elliott said,
Actually, I can't get it to do this. When I ask it the exact question in the OP, I get listings of cell phone vendors nearby.

When it shows the question you've asked, does it come up as the same text as in the image? Sounds like Siri may have heard "where..." instead.

Manish said,

When it shows the question you've asked, does it come up as the same text as in the image? Sounds like Siri may have heard "where..." instead.

Nope. Exact same interpretation as the picture above. Just very different results.

Elliott said,

Nope. Exact same interpretation as the picture above. Just very different results.


You: "What's the best cell phone ever?"
Siri: "Here are a few cell phone venders in your area..."

That doesn't even make sense...

rfirth said,

You: "What's the best cell phone ever?"
Siri: "Here are a few cell phone venders in your area..."

That doesn't even make sense...


I know it doesn't. lol But that's because Siri, kind of like IBM's Watson, just throws out what it deems "unimportant" in the phrase it's given. Apparently it thinks, for me, that it's more relevant to show me cell phone vendors than it is to answer my question, and I've noticed it's the word "ever" that makes it mess up like that.

At approximately 1pm 8th May siri became self aware and launched a hostile attack on apple products via recommending the competitions stuff... the resistance starts to form!!

DevilsNotDead said,
NeoWIN well, i guess win fanboys rule Neowin..

What's the problem?
I'm a serious Apple fan and this cracked me up to no end!
Adore the irony haha!

Lighten up, it's just a dump algorithm spitting out the filtered entries it can grab from a database.

GS:mac

answer show phone's "current" popularity, not its the best phone. will show different results time to time.

Edited by Dead'Soul, May 11 2012, 5:51pm :

Dead'Soul said,
answer show phone's popularity, not its the best phone. will show different results time to time.

Isn't the iPhone the most popular?

Siri could have accessed smartphone reviews from the media, which are supposed to be a bit more objective in terms of examining the pros and cons of a device.

Glad you included the phrase "supposed to be." Seems like more and more frequently I'm seeing just as much (or even more) bias from the "media" as from the "regular" folks...

"user reviews can be heavily biased at times. Siri could have accessed smartphone reviews from the media, which are supposed to be a bit more objective in terms of examining the pros and cons of a device."

So reviewer comments are more important than user reviews? I if use my phone for a month, find what I like and don't like, and write a review of that, my opinion is worth less than someone who spends 1/2 day and then goes back to their iPhone, and then gives it a bad review because it doesn't have a fruit logo on it? But of course, when the iPhone is getting great reviews from the Apple faithful, that is touted as being a great device and shows how Apple listens to their customers. But when users review another device well enough to be found as the highest ranked, then reviews by professional reviewers are all that matter.

yes but most people will only post user reviews if there is something is wrong, if you have a phone that is OK you are probably not gonna make review about it. however a person who reviews phone for a job will be less 'bias'.

mrpakiman said,
yes but most people will only post user reviews if there is something is wrong, if you have a phone that is OK you are probably not gonna make review about it. however a person who reviews phone for a job will be less 'bias'.

Most tech sites are biased towards apple so its pretty hard to get an honest review of a phone without their beloved half bitten logo on it. The fact that so many users are actually posting about how much they love their Nokia Lumia 900 (not perfect, but still a great phone) says a lot.

You wont hear such comments from sites like the Verge, engadget, gizmodo or even mainstream news sites who all cant see beyond their iphones.

efjay said,

Most of the press is biased towards apple so its pretty hard to get an honest review of a phone without their beloved half bitten logo on it. The fact that so many users are actually posting about how much they love their Nokia Lumia 900 (not perfect, but still a great phone) says a lot.

You wont hear such comments from sites like the Verge, engadget, gizmodo or even mainstream news sites who all cant see beyond their iphones.

I've fixed that for you.

ACTIONpack said,
It just shows that Siri is just a pretty Google interface!

As Sraf said, it's Wolfram Alpha (this is the result shown above: http://www.wolframalpha.com/in...est%20mobile%20phone%20ever). Siri is simply a voice-recognising front end for Wolfram Alpha for the mostpart. If you ask Siri a question, and Alpha can answer it, it'll parse the result and tell you, if not, it'll fall back to a generic Google search.

Embarrassingly for Siri in this case, Wolfram Alpha calculated the best phone based on review average, and returned the result which is technically correct (which, of course, is the best kind of correct).

Wolfram Alpha is an amazing piece of computing

Ahaha ))

Somebody please ask Siri about the best smartphone

And I expect Apple to patch it so it will always recommend Apple products when asked relevant questions.

zhiVago said,
Ahaha ))

Somebody please ask Siri about the best smartphone

And I expect Apple to patch it so it will always recommend Apple products when asked relevant questions.


They better buy Wolphram

Ricardo Dawkins said,

They better buy Wolphram

Why? With all the joking answers it as, like when you ask about the meaning of life or as pointed out above, if you ask it about the best mobile phone it will give a joking answer because you are already holding it (at least so Siri would claim).
Obviously Apple have the ability to make certain questions prompt certain answer rather than just searching for it on google and Wolfram, they just need to add a few more of those.

Depends on how you ask it. If you ask "What's the best mobile phone?" it starts giving joke answers like "You're kidding, right?" and "You really have to ask that question?"

Elliott said,
Depends on how you ask it. If you ask "What's the best mobile phone?" it starts giving joke answers like "You're kidding, right?" and "You really have to ask that question?"

I think the keyword is "ever". Asking "what's the best smart/mobile/cell phone?" results in references to the 4S, whereas adding "ever" to the end of the questions produces the result above.

Manish said,

I think the keyword is "ever". Asking "what's the best smart/mobile/cell phone?" results in references to the 4S, whereas adding "ever" to the end of the questions produces the result above.

I think that's what +Elliot was talking about...