Bad Apple: Siri suffers from split-brain syndrome

If someone else has raised this, I apologize. But a quick search doesn’t show anything.

I continue to be dumbfounded at how Siri can’t figure out which device to use as a mouthpiece.

Example: yesterday I was in my car with my iPhone and wearing my Apple watch. I said “hey Siri, play my text messages”. Then, at the same time, my iPhone said “you need to unlock your iPhone” and my watch said “you have no new messages”.

Why can’t Siri realize I’m happily monogamous, and only need one of her attending to my every need? Can’t she coordinate and send me one reply?

In this case, it’s possible that the watch can remain unlocked while on my wrist, whereas the phone locks more aggressively since it’s not attached to me. But they’re still paired and the watch has access to my messages. So why doesn’t the watch tell the phone to shut up?

Other times, I get different behavior when both devices are unlocked. I’ll have to be experiment more with that…

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In theory, Apple does try fairly hard to do this correctly, since it would be a major problem for HomePod owners. It’s not perfect, but I don’t see too many outright failures like the one you experienced. I wrote the device priority waterfall here:

Aha, I recall that good article, with section “Hey Siri Priorities”.

Not sure how to reply, though. My complaint here isn’t about the wrong device getting priority, which appears to be a more challenging problem. My complaint is that MULTIPLE devices are responding, indicating that the platform is split-brained. That should be an easier problem to fix: one device has to grab the “I’ll reply” token (semaphore) before responding. If you don’t have the token, you shut up.

I’m going to keep an eye on this, and see if I can learn more about how it works :slight_smile:

Could you repeat the test with the phone unlocked?

I’m guessing that Siri does have a hierarchy, but when the phone (probably higher up in the hierarchy) failed to respond because it was locked, it then fell back to the next device in line (the watch).

If anything, the bug here is that the phone replied with its error message when it should have kept silent because another device (the watch) was able to respond.

Right, but I think it’s the same system as the prioritization. In theory, the command gets sent down the tree of possible devices that could answer, and the “correct” one does—and all the others do not. I use Siri heavily with our HomePods, and while I sometimes see my iPhone grabbing the command instead (such as with HomeKit commands), it’s unusual for more than one device to respond.