Siri forgot how to tell the time on the HomePod – and that shows how much it needs an AI upgrade

Apple HomePod Mini
(Image credit: Future)

It appears that Siri on the Apple HomePod and HomePod mini smart speakers has somewhat forgotten how to provide the time to its users. 

MacRumors reported that when the virtual assistant receives the voice command “What time is it?” Siri failed to answer, and directed people to their paired iPhone, with the response: "I found some web results, I can show them if you ask again from your ‌iPhone‌." 

The publication then reported that Apple appears to have fixed the issue, but Siri still can’t answer similar questions such as “Can you tell me the time?” and “What’s the time?” 

We’ve not encountered such issues ourselves, but HomePod-based Siris (or should that be Sirai?) have reportedly been stumbling over other commands, like being asked to turn off smart lights in a particular room. Such bugs and virtual-assistant slip-ups aren’t uncommon, but this report further cements the idea that Siri isn’t the smartest assistant in the virtual box. 

Silly Siri needs some clever chops 

While I use an iPhone 15 Pro Max, I almost never use SIri, preferring to bark commands or queries at the Google Assistant in my Nest Hub and other smart devices. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

This fact, and now these time-telling troubles, tell me that it’s time Siri got a real upgrade in smarts. Sure, Apple products and software are pretty slick, but the folks at Cupertino appear to have been dragging their heels when it comes to making clever virtual assistants and adopting generative AI.

I’m not super-keen for Apple to go the Google route and make generative AI front and center to its devices, as the search giant did with its Google Pixel 8 series; I’d rather go for natural-looking photos than ones that have been heavily manipulated by clever algorithm. But I do feel that Siri isn't fit for purpose right now, and a little more seamless integration of AI into Apple’s various software platforms could be a boon to users, without raising fears of a robotic uprising.

With new iPads likely to be just around the corner at Apple’s Let Loose event on May 7, and WWDC 2024 coming not long after, we should get a glimpse at what Apple plans to do with generative AI, and what type of smart tools could be integrated into the likes of macOS, iOS, and the rumored iPhone 16.

The silver lining to all this, at least in my mind, is that when Apple does turn its hand to a segment of the technology world it’s a little late arriving to, it tends to do a very good job of integrating said tech into its devices and platforms. So my hope is that Apple will make smart use of generative AI so that it's genuinely useful to future iPhone users, rather than a gimmick to tout how smart algorithms can be.

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Managing Editor, Mobile Computing

Roland Moore-Colyer is Managing Editor at TechRadar with a focus on phones and tablets, but a general interest in all things tech, especially those with a good story behind them. He can also be found writing about games, computers, and cars when the occasion arrives, and supports with the day-to-day running of TechRadar. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face and a nose for food markets.