The Siri

Photo: Gregory Varnum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My kids refer to our HomePod as “Siri.” As in, “Papa, Siri isn’t working.” (Lately, I hear this a lot.) They don’t mean Siri on the iPad or the iPhone isn’t working; they’re talking about the dark gray cylinder in the room.

The Siri has a lot of potential. As a speaker, it’s great. It replaced the unwieldy soundbar + woofer in our living room. It doesn’t sound as full as the soundbar, but I feel more strongly about clutter and complexity than I do about audio quality. Movies and music sound good.

Lately, the latter occasionally fail to play on request. I say, “Hey Siri, play Redemption Song by Bob Marley,” and the Siri responds, “Redemption Song by Bob Marley playing.” But there’s no music coming out.

I’m competent with computers. With other Apple devices, I have a sense of how to debug the thing. With the Siri, I’m stuck. With its minimal physical controls, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve asked it to restart itself, but it just shrugs. (At least that’s what I’m imagining it’s doing.)

Google led me to discover that I could restart the Siri by going to the Home app on my iPhone. I couldn’t find this on my own because the feature is hidden in the bowels of this app, under an ominous-sounding “Reset HomePod” button. (I admit to first resorting to the time-honored “pull-the-plug” maneuver.)

Restarting hasn’t helped.

I think of the Siri as 20% beautiful hardware and 80% inscrutable cloud-based service. (Perhaps my kids get this too, which is why they call it Siri instead of HomePod.) I expect the problem lies with the service, not with the hardware. So, when my daughter says, “Papa, Siri isn’t working,” all I can do is shrug.