While Siri voice search is a core feature of the new Apple TV, right now it’s limited to only eight countries: UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Japan. In other regions, the Siri Remote is simply called the Apple TV Remote (not to be confused with the old Apple TV Remote) and pressing the mic button just opens the Search app.
This is despite the fact Siri on iPhone is actually available in 30 countries, so it wasn’t clear why Apple had pinpointed only a subset of those. It turns out, according to a chat with Apple by MacPrime, that there are some clever optimizations Apple makes with Apple TV Siri to improve speech recognition.
Because a core feature is the movie and TV show search, Apple tunes Siri in every country by teaching it about pronunciation characteristics for movie and TV show titles. Phonetic speech of actor names, films and directors vary drastically in different countries.
So Apple has to go through each country, add the differences in speech to the Siri database, so the overall user experience of searching for things is faster and more accurate. In the post, MacPrime uses the example of actor name Matthew McConaughey as something that is often pronounced in wildy different ways across languages and dialects.
It doesn’t do this for Siri on iPhone specifically because movies and TV shows is not a core function of using that device. But for Apple TV, it’s almost essential that those features work well so Apple will only add Siri for the country once it has gone through those training steps. In addition, on Apple TV there is no keyboard input for Siri so accuracy with voice recognition is doubly important so you can successfully find the content you are looking for.
Apple has therefore started by training Siri in the eight most popular countries (like USA and UK) and is working on expanding more soon.
You can read more about Siri on Apple TV in this Apple help document.
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