If It Ain’t Fixed, Break It

I have always kept my phone on silent, and thus come to depend on vibration feedback for a lot of workflow tasks. One such task is invoking Siri by holding the home button, to make a quick inquiry or request.

On my iPhone 6, long-pressing the home button always resulted in a short pause before a pleasant vibration indicating that Siri was ready to listen. I trained myself to wait until that vibration was felt before bothering to speak, lest Siri miss anything important.

On my iPhone 6s, however, there is no such feedback. Apple “broke” it. I was all in a huff this morning to file a bug about this, sure in my knowledge that the usability of the phone had been diminished by removing this feedback. Every time I invoke Siri now, in the absence of vibration feedback, I wait to see the tell-tale animated sound wave detector. I’m never quite sure when Siri is ready for me.

I complained on Twitter about the problem, hoping there was a secret setting that I had missed when restoring my phone. I got lots of commiseration from folks who also miss the feedback, and assurances from others that I simply needed to set my “vibrate on ring” or “vibrate on silent” settings correctly. I appreciate the responses, but they were all wrong. And I’m wrong. We’re all wrong.

Apple “broke” the haptic feedback associated with invoking Siri, by “fixing” the problem that there had ever been any latency before. Have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus? Go ahead, I dare you: hold down the home button and start talking to Siri. You will not escape its attention. It’s ready to go when you are, so it would be obnoxious of it to impose any contrived delay or to give taptic feedback that is uncalled for. Siri has become a more perfect assistant, and we have to change our habits to accommodate this.

The elimination of latency in Siri’s attentiveness seems related to the fact that Apple have added dedicated functionality to the phone’s M9 chip to allow Siri to remain efficiently at attention:

The integrated M9 works so efficiently and intelligently that Siri is always on and waiting for your voice commands. You can easily activate Siri by saying “Hey Siri” whenever your iPhone 6s is nearby.

The lesson is that sometimes our instinct tells us something has been terribly broken, when it has actually been gloriously fixed. Now you can quickly dictate “Hey Siri remind me to file a bug about Siri feedback,” before quickly amending yourself: “Hey Siri delete the reminder,” and dismiss any perceived obligation you felt to tell Apple just how “buggy” the iPhone is.