iPhone’s Siri Doesn’t Know Guinea Pigs

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iPhone's Siri falls short on finding guinea pig information.

As a cavy enthusiast, I was excited to get my new iPhone 4S. Included in this phone is the much talked about Siri, advertised as the “intelligent assistant that’s there to help. Just ask.” Siri understands what you say and answers questions like “What is today’s weather” and responds to commands like, “Call my husband” assuming, of course, you tell it which man to correctly identify as your husband.

However, Siri has already proven to be disappointing on many fronts. Mat Honan of Gizmodo called it “Apple’s Broken Promise” as Siri fails to perform well the day to day tasks that most would ask it outside of the handful of questions seen in the commercial. For example, Siri has nothing for the cavy enthusiast. The following is a list of responses from Siri on the basic questions important to readers of Guinea Pig Today:

“What is a guinea pig?”
What Siri hears: “What is a guinea pig?”
Siri’s answer: Siri gives us a link about livestock in the country of Guinea

“What is a guinea pig?”
What Siri hears: “What is the guinea pig?”
Siri’s answer: Siri correctly gives us information on guinea pigs While Siri was wrong in hearing what I had to say, it did bring back the right information.

“What is a cavy?”
What Siri hears: “What is the Kayvee?”
Siri’s answer: Siri gives us statistics on the popularity and origins of the name Kaylee.

“Where is the nearest guinea pig rescue?”
What Siri hears: “Where is the nearest guinea pig rescue”
Siri’s answer: “I don’t understand ‘Where is the nearest guinea pig rescue’ ”
(We also tried “Locate” and “Find” with the same results)

“Find an animal rescue”
What Siri hears: “Find an animal rescue”
Siri’s answer: “I found a number of animal shelters… 14 of them are fairly close to you:”
They were all within 15 miles of my house. Some of them had guinea pigs but there was no way to tell from the list.

“Find guinea pig food”
What Siri hears: “Find guinea pig food”
Siri’s answer: “Sorry, I can’t look for restaurants in Guinea” Again, Siri is looking in the country of Guinea.

“Find the guinea pig food”
What Siri hears: “Find the guinea pig food”
Siri’s answer: “I found a number of restaurants fairy close to you:” Siri gives me a list of restaurants in my area. I don’t think my guinea pig wants to eat at McDonald’s.

“Find dog food”
What Siri hears: “Find dog food”
Siri’s answer: “I found 18 pet stores. 10 of them are fairly close to you:” All within 10 miles of my house and many also sold guinea pig food.

“Find an Exotic Veterinarian”
What Siri hears: “Find an Exotic Veterinarian”
Siri’s answer: “I found 3 Veterinarians matching “Exotic” not far from you:”
All within 10 miles and connected to reviews from Yelp.com. While one of the vets on the list was one I knew with good care, my personal veterinarian did not appear on the list.

“Find an Emergency Veterinarian”
What Siri hears: “Find an Emergency Veterinarian”
Siri’s answer: “I found a number of veterinarians matching “Emergency” …21 of them are close to you:” Again, all were within 50 miles of my home and connected to reviews from Yelp.com, however my personal veterinarian did not appear on the list.

This test taught me a few things about Siri. First, the translation from speech into text doesn’t seem to be the problem as one would expect. Siri knows, in many cases, that I’m saying “guinea pig” but it doesn’t know those two words go together. The challenge seems to be taking that information and knowing how to use it in a search. I don’t know why “a guinea pig” and “the guinea pig” made such a tremendous difference. Siri obviously has a lot to learn about cavies.

Second, the search results will only ever be as good as the data that’s available. My Exotic Veterinarian, which is also open 24 hours for emergencies, is part of a larger complex. While the company can be found on Yelp, it does not appear with “Exotic” or “Emergency” in the name, therefore Siri misses it on both accounts. If this were an example being carried out by a visitor to this area with a real emergency, they would pass the most qualified emergency veterinary service in the area. What a shame. I’ll be sure to let my exotic vet know this.

What have you asked Siri about your guinea pig? Please post your questions and Siri’s answers below.

If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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4 Responses to “iPhone’s Siri Doesn’t Know Guinea Pigs”
  1. PapuaDaddy says:

    I asked Siri how to get the piigs to stop yelling at me all the time but all she did was send me to Amazon to buy earplugs.

  2. AlisaPiig says:

    I asked Siri ‘What sound does a guinea pig make?’, and confused the heck out of her. Then I called her a bad name, and she said I ‘was not very nice.’ So I was scolded by my own phone…a phone that does not know the sound of ‘WHEET!’ Hmm.

  3. uTMY says:

    Seen this?

    Although not Siri enabled yet, perhaps it may be one day!



    ps. Perhaps because “Guinea” is considered a derogatory term in certain countries, Apple provides guidance on this word so it may be that Siri prefers to avoid its use. Just guessing.

  4. Trin says:

    Try asking her where to hide a body. I asked just because it sounded hilarious, and I was shocked when it popped up driving directions to places where a body could efficiently be disposed of. Siri is useless to me as a cavy lover, but she’s more than helpful to the mob. D;

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