September 14, 2015 at 9:24 PM by Dr. Drang
Here’s a change of pace: I’m going to complain about Apple making a software change I don’t like.
I use Siri dictation at work for two things: logging measurements as I take them in the field and in the lab, and creating summaries of long documents. I haven’t done either of these for a few months, so I’m not sure when Siri changed, but I had to dictate several summaries yesterday, and Siri fought me the whole way.
Here’s how I typically summarize a document. I open a new note in Notesy, Editorial, or Drafts (I’m ecumenical), dictate the name of the document at the top of the note, and then page through the document, dictating short summaries of the pages I find interesting. An example might be
Discussion of the third set of bearing failures.
Heard noises in rear and decided to disassemble. Found fretting on inner and outer races.
The way I’d dictate the first of these descriptions is
Discussion of the third set of bearing failures
The “new line” acts as the equivalent of tapping the Return key, and the “new paragraph” is like tapping the Return key twice.
Because the documents I review often have long stretches that have no relation to my work, I got into the habit of dictating in little chunks like this. Unless I used unusual words, Siri’s transcription was quite accurate.
And it still is for the words, but what I learned yesterday is that Apple has changed the way Siri treats the “new line,” “new paragraph,” and “spacebar” directives. Instead of adding whitespace immediately (which was the old behavior), Siri now waits until you say something else before acting on those directives.
This isn’t a problem for me with “new line,” because I always have something to say after dictating a page number, but it’s a pain in the ass for “new paragraph,” because I seldom say anything after that. “New paragraph” what I say to prepare the note for the next chunk of dictation, which might not come for several minutes, during which time Siri’s dictation is off.
Obviously, I can get around this by changing my habit to start the dictation chunks with “new paragraph” instead of ending them with it.
Heard noises in rear and decided to disassemble
Found fretting on inner and outer races
But the fact that there’s an easy workaround isn’t the point. Why has Apple decided that dictation can’t end with whitespace? What business is it of Apple’s if I want to end my note with several blank lines? Worse, Siri’s previous behavior trained me to dictate my notes in a certain way, and now I have to ditch those habits and retrain myself for absolutely no reason.
This is a small-scale version of an Apple trait that continually pisses off its users. You’ve become proficient at some aspect of iMovie/Keynote/Pages/Final Cut Pro? Too bad, we’re changing that in the new version. You have decades of experience with thecommand? We just got rid of it in all of our apps. It’ll be better, we promise.
The confounding thing is that quite often Apple’s new way is better. But the post-Lion replacement forstill sucks, and I doubt I’ll ever like this new dictation behavior.