What's up with Siri?!

What’s up with Siri? For over a year now, about 30% of the time Siri, on both my iPhone XR (iOS 16.6) and my HomePod Mini (can’t make it tell me its version number, but its Software Update is set to Automatic):

  • shows the colored wheel for a few seconds, but fails to respond;
  • fails to show the colored wheel or make any other response at all;
  • shows the colored wheel for a bit then it disappears;
  • takes several tries to get “Hey Siri” to evoke any response;
  • says there are network problems (but no other app complains);
  • does as asked, but makes no audio (or text) response.

And then, sometimes, it works great! :blush:

I don’t see online complaints about these problems. Am I the only one experiencing them?

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Answering an implicit non-Siri item in this entry:

To get information about a Home accessory, do the following:

Open the Home app.
Press and hold the button for the device in question and tap the Accessory Details entry on the popup window.
Scroll the screen that appears and tap the gear icon in the lower right corner.
Scroll to the bottom on the next screen.

You should see the current version Number for the software and other identifying information.

Thank you, that did it! 16.6.

I hate it when Apple hides stuff, like email attachments in Apple Mail, unless you know exactly where to hover or how long to press….

I should point out that the problem also affects voice dictation on the iPhone.

Siri definitely has issues, but yours sound more severe than most I’ve heard of.

I would try using Siri on your iPhone while you’re out of the house but on a strong cellular connection. That will eliminate your network as a variable.

It’s also conceivable that it’s somehow related to your Apple ID/iCloud status, but troubleshooting that would probably require a call to Apple.

My Homepod experience is that it is very vulnerable to wifi issues. Some troubleshooting:

Check for interference from appliances such as microwave ovens (does the Homepod misbehave when the appliance is operating)

In your router settings try assigning a different wifi channel (this might overcome interference such as neighbour’'s wifi)

If you have a Mac try checking the wifi signal strength with an app like Wifi Explorer

More desperate…
try assigning a Static IP address to your Homepod in router settings (this worked for me with Original Homepods - dynamic assignment seemed to confuse them)

If applicable, try disabling “smart” features of your router - these features can be confusing for Homepods

Replace your router!

Best of luck

WiFi signals are line-of-sight, distance, and obstacle challenged. If you have a dual bank router can expect 4G performance plus minus attenuation after a few walls.
My son’s two-story house WiFi begins upstairs in a corner over the garage. The attenuation was "Speedtest"ed at 60 Mbs at the router and 13 Mbs at the downstairs family room 4k Smart TV which was kitty-corner to the router. That is to say through 4-5 walls and a floor for the best condition.
Going to a laptop in the kitchen, the signal had to penetrate 2 walls, a floor, and through a wall for the pantry was (canned goods), a refrigerator, or a microwave. The range was on the outer wall.

Had the house been 6-7 houses closer to the AT&T distribution panel, the WiFi top subscription would have been 100 Mbs.

I’ve successfully used MOCA and Power Line. But that’s another story.


Useful info - thank you.
My main point (amongst my ramblings) is that I have found Homepods very intolerant of wifi routers that, in-trying to optimise performance, are too clever for some dumb devices.
Maybe the latest Homepods are more tolerant than my original Homepods.

Did that, same erratic symptoms. Also the same on other Wi-Fi networks. Maddening!

Did most of that, too. The router is a mesh network with good saturation, minimal interference. HomePod may use IPv6, and I suspect the iPhone may too (but how can you tell?), and IPv6 should be less prone to interference.

IPv6 is a layer 3 protocol well above the layer 1 transmission media (wired or wireless) which it shares with IPv4. Any interference in, for example, wireless access would affect both equally.

A common problem on iPhones is the Siri connection continuing to try WiFi in preference to Cellular connection, as might happen when one leaves the home WiFi reception area. Temporarily turning off WiFi forces connection to the presumable better Cellular data connection.

In my case, my 3-channel mesh Wi-Fi is strong throughout the house, especially in the kitchen, which is where I notice the problem most frequently because that’s where the HomePod Mini is (I order it around a lot!). I dictate on the iPhone there a lot too; I’ve tried turning off cellular, but that hasn’t helped. Also, the HomePod doesn’t have cellular.

I thought it might be confusion between the HomePod and my iPhone, but after some experimentation, that doesn’t seem to be the case. HomePod responds with “just a moment” about half the time, and then either continues, simply abandons the connection, or says “I’m sorry, there’s a problem with the connection.” Trying again immediately usually works.

The iPhone in mixed editing/dictating mode sometimes chimes immediately, but usually there’s a 5-10 second delay after the microphone icon and language, and sometimes it simply never responds at all, giving up with a vibrating circle, but without any error indication.

I gather I’m the only one experiencing the problems…:slightly_frowning_face:.

That suggests interference from appliances, especially microwaves which operate about 2.4GHz.

I gave up with a mesh wifi system - one reason was Homepod connection issues. I now use a (Telstra) wifi extender instead of a mesh.

Good point. However, I’ve confirmed that the problem persists in the absence of any appliance running. But just for fun, I nuked a cup of coffee while the dishwasher and refrigerator were running, then asked Siri to add something to the grocery list. She responded with the usual “One sec…” and then did as bidden.

Interesting! Were your HomePod connection issues limited to Siri? Other than Siri, I’ve have no observed problems with the HomePod, nor with any other network device. IP Scanner says it found a total of 62 devices (not all of which are online at the same time).

In theory, there are 255 available addresses on a Wi-Fi network. In practice, there’s some much lower limit to the number of devices that can effectively interoperate on a network. My previous non-mesh router bogged down somewhere around 35-40 devices. My Synology 2.5/5GHz mesh router has a third 5GHz channel for “backhaul” (I think that means intra-network coordination). It appears to be working great with 62 devices—except for Siri! It will be interesting when I get a chance to test my HomePod on someone else’s Wi-Fi network.

That would be 255 addresses per access point. In theory, if you have a tri-band router, that would be 255 per channel - 765 maximum. And with a mesh or enterprise network, that would be 255 per channel per access point. So a 4-node mesh with 3 bands each could theoretically go up to 3060 addresses.

But the practical reality is that this isn’t going to be possible with consumer equipment. The CPU power and RAM in a consumer router/mesh node isn’t going to have the capacity for that many connections (some will document the actual limits). Additionally, even if that many devices can connect, there won’t be enough bandwidth to go around unless most of the devices are just sitting idle.

Wi-Fi 6 improves the situation (and many say that it is almost mandatory for a LAN with a lot of IoT devices for this reason), but Wi-Fi 6 is still pretty expensive tech.

Now, if you’ve got an Enterprise Wi-Fi system (where access points are mostly-dumb transceivers all connecting to a common Wi-Fi controller computer in a central location via wired Ethernet), then you can probably push a lot closer to the limits because it will be the controller’s CPU and RAM that come into play, and that is typically an enterprise-class server capable of doing much more than just run the Wi-Fi. But very few people are going to have this in their homes.

Mostly Airplay connection problems several years ago. I started a list here:

I think that Siri is junk, essentially worthless because of what it can’t do. Yesterday’s high temperature? Forget it. Current UTC (formerly known as GMT) or sidereal time? Forget it. Historical sports data? No. And tons and tons of other stuff.

I think Siri predates AI; it’s purely programmatic. But when Apple upgrades it with AI, I suspect (hope!) they’ll do it right. Apple is often often not the first to the party, profiting by watching others’ struggles.

But meanwhile I sure wish they’d fix the failures to respond.

I agree. I’ve been convinced for some time that Siri is at its heart a scripting language. It looks for keywords to identify what you’re looking for, then stuffs the rest of what you said at a feature-specific parser to try and make sense of it.

FWIW, Amazon’s Alexa system is similar. And since it’s a public API available for any AWS app, you can actually see how it is configured. AWS apps can define “skills” where you define the syntax your skill will respond to and how to craft response questions that sounds like they came from a human listener.

When done correctly, the result can be very convincing, and with no actual understanding (even at the minimal levels used by AI/ML solutions) of what you said.

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This New York Times article confirms that Siri is “command-and-control” AI… It does have to do recognition on the input, but then it’s just matching against known commands.