Previous “Apple” posts

A Firmware Update Is Available for Your Power Cable 

Is it really worth turning charging cables into computers?

Parts of the future are very dumb.

One Timer Ought to Be Enough for Anybody

Really, why would anyone ever want two timers?

Maybe some day, in the distant future, humanity will harness the advanced technology necessary to run two timers at the same time.

A request for Siri to set a time for five minutes, to which it replaces “There's already a 1 hour timer. Replace it?”

I hope I’m alive to see it.

Update (February 9, 2023): As reader Miraz J. notes, belying the “dumbwatch” label I’ve given it, the Apple Watch is capable of running two (or more!) timers at once. This feature was actually added in 2021’s WatchOS 8 release, which makes it even more comical that the vastly more powerful iPhone can’t do it in 2023.

You Have to Wait a Bit

It's rather amusing for a watch to have such bad timing.

Earlier today, I went for a five mile run. I’m doing a goofy winter challenge, where I have to run outside every day in January, so this was the thirteenth day in a row I did this. That run finished up at 9:17 AM. One single, solitary minute later, I got this notification on my Apple Watch:

A message reading “7-Workout Week: Get in a workout today and it will be a 7-Workout Week. Don't let up Paul!”

Apple’s week runs Monday to Sunday, meaning I have three full days to get in a single workout and thus hit their desired “7-Workout Week”. Obviously, my daily run alone will get me to the prescribed number. Further, simple math will tell you that in addition to my runs, I’ve already done a couple other workouts this week. My average number of workouts per day this week is 1.5. Given all that, this encouragement seems needless by all accounts.

But even if some encouragement were warranted, why offer it when I have literally just completed a workout? Work on your timing, Watch. Also, your writing. I already “got in a workout” today. Pester me tomorrow, or better yet, not at all.

Previously in asinine Apple Watch encouragement: Take a Day Off, Coach

Despite Claims to the Contrary, Siri Is Not Actually Good at Sports

In related news, Ohio Street defeated Penn Street.

The latest matchup in the storied college football rivalry between the Wolverines of Michigan and the Michigan State Spartans took place last Saturday. A bad time was had by all who were rooting for the maize and blue, as Michigan choked away a 16-point second half lead, all while Jim Harbaugh looked consistently bumfuzzled.

More relevant to this site, asking Siri about the game produced some spectacularly awful results. I invite someone, anyone, to explain this collection of nonsense.

First, I asked Siri for the Michigan score:

Me: Hey Siri, what was the Michigan score?

Siri: Michigan lost a close one to Michigan Street today. The final score was 37-33.

[Audio recording]

Agog, I then asked it for the Michigan State score:

Me: Hey Siri, what was the Michigan State score?

Siri: Michigan Street barely prevailed over Michigan by a score of 37-33 today.

[Audio recording]

I was now stifling laughter, but I managed to ask Siri to give me the “Michigan Street” score:

Me: Hey Siri, what was the Michigan Street score?

Siri: Michigan just barely lost to to Michigan State today. The final score was 37-33.

[Audio recording]

That almost seems like the right answer, but given the phrasing, I suspect it’s actually giving me the Michigan score. That’s subtly different, and not quite right.

Of course, the larger issue is the repeated referencing of “Michigan Street”. Those with even modicum of familiarity with college sports know that when a school has “State” in its name, it’s often shortened to “St.”. Siri is obviously misinterpreting that “St.” as “Street”. That’s just flat out wrong. Apparently, it’s also been happening for years:

This tweet is nearly five years old.

This mistake is hilarious, but at least it makes a stupid kind of sense. The part I find really inexplicable is the utter lack of consistency. Asking Siri about “Michigan State” gave results for “Michigan Street”, while asking it about “Michigan Street” returned a correct-ish response about “Michigan State”. Even allowing for the misinterpretation of “St.” as “Street”, how on earth does that happen?


At a certain point, the Apple Watch should perhaps be smart enough to throw in the towel.

As you may be aware, I love my dumb digital badges, including those earned by completing the Apple Watch’s monthly fitness challenges. Those goals are individually tailored to you, based on recent activity. This can often be a source of frustration, as no matter what you’ve done recently, the Watch always demands more. So it was that after a summer of extensive running, my September monthly challenge called for me to burn 30,000 active calories in total.

1,000 calories every single day for a month is a lot, but it might have been feasible if not for an injury I suffered at the end of August. That injury led me to take time off from running, which in turn drastically reduced my caloric burn. As a result, I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be achieving this particular goal. However, it wasn’t until the end of the month that I saw just how short I’d fall.

On Tuesday, September 28, the Fitness app on my phone showed the following:

4,655 active calories in a single day is absurd, let alone doing it three days in a row. Of course, I realized that things would only get more ridiculous as October neared, because my calories burned would be ever farther off the necessary pace. Sure enough, just as the month was ending, the Fitness app was still urging me on thusly:

This screenshot was taken at 10:50 PM on September 30

At that point last night, with 70 minutes remaining in September, I needed to burn 185 calories per minute. But sure, try. What’s the harm in trying? Come on, don’t be lazy. Just try.

Siri’s Atrocious Fielding Percentage

Siri is bad at fielding requests.

Awhile back, I discovered I could hook up my home alarm system to Shortcuts on my iPhone. If you’re not familiar with Shortcuts, they’re a convenient way to automate things. In Apple’s own words:

Shortcuts let you quickly do everyday tasks, and with the apps you use the most — all with just a tap or by asking Siri.

In my particular case, I created Shortcuts to enable and disable the home alarm. For months now, I’ve activated the system in the evening by issuing the command “Set Home Alarm”, and deactivated it in the morning with the command “Disarm”. It was simple, handy, and it felt like the future. Of course, given the fact that I was using both Siri and my Apple Watch, things were bound to fall apart.

Yesterday morning, my “Disarm” command suddenly started returning this:

Siri on the Apple Watch showing information about a 28 year old Smashing Pumpkins song

I suppose it’s possible I might want information about a Smashing Pumpkins song from 28 years ago that I haven’t heard this millennium. Still, it seems more likely that I want to do the same thing I’ve done every single morning for months.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get Siri to run the desired Shortcut. I eventually disarmed the system from the PIN pad like an animal, and went about my day. However, in the evening, I hit a similar frustration:

Siri on the Apple Watch getting confused about what alarm I want

This mix-up is a bit more understandable, and I do occasionally set alarm clock-style alarms on the Apple Watch. Still, when I do, I say “Set an alarm for 7 AM”. I include a time, because that’s the most important part of an alarm. Also, just to reiterate, I’ve been using this Shortcut with the exact phrase “Set home alarm” since July.

I tried being more explicit, mentioning the word “Shortcut”, but still Siri failed:

Siri on the Apple Watch failing despite an even more explicit command

After giving it multiple tries (and documenting it all with screenshots), I once again gave up and handled things manually. On the plus side, all of this stupidity did lead me to listen to “Disarm”, which then led me to re-watch the video for “1979”. That really took me back.

This morning, I tested things again, and it all worked perfectly.

Siri on the Apple Watch working exactly as it should

I’m not surprised, because Siri does have a relatively high accuracy rate overall. Siri probably handles 90-95% of my requests correctly. However, it’s that general reliability that makes the failures all the more maddening.

Ted Williams once noted that hitting in baseball is the only place “…where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer”. For something like Siri, however, the better baseball comparison is to fielding percentage. It’s essentially expected that a fielder will make a defensive play every single time the ball gets to them. All-star players will have fielding percentages approaching (and even exceeding) 99%. A seemingly high fielding percentage of 95% is somewhere between mediocre and lousy. Given the high number of errors Siri commits, it would definitely be sent down to the minors for more work, if not cut from the team entirely.

Breaking News: Siri Continues to Be Bad

That game was played in May. MAY!

On Sunday, I wanted to know the score of the baseball game between the soon-to-be Cleveland Guardians and the Tampa Bay Rays. I asked Siri “What’s the Cleveland score?”, and it came back with this garbage:

There are times of the year when such a question would be reasonable. Earlier in the year, there were days when the Cleveland Baseball Club and the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team both had a game. However, it’s the end of July, and the Cavaliers played their last game 10 weeks ago:

A Cavaliers game from May. MAY!

This is even more embarrassing than the Cavs’ record.

Alarming Dialog Text

This text is so bad, it's funny.

Recently, I asked Siri to delete all the alarms on my Apple Watch. It understood my request, and wisely asked me to confirm it before obliging. After that, however, it gave me a nearly incomprehensible response. I re-read it multiple times, concerned I was losing my mind or perhaps having a stroke:

I deleted all of your alarms. You also have sleep alarm met the conditions, you will need to open the Sleep app delete them.

You also have sleep alarm met the conditions, you will need to open the Sleep app delete them.

The gist of this incredibly poorly written message is that I have a special “Sleep” alarm, which is distinct from other alarms. If I want to disable that, I have to do it separately, in the Sleep app. But this copy has missing words, singular/plural mismatches, and a button that should probably include a verb like “Open”. Yikes.

Lies, Lions, and Statistics

Yet again, Siri provides amusement but not assistance.

Recently, I saw this picture online:

An adult male lion, sitting in a wheelbarrow

Now, that’s not really the point of this post, but it is a funny picture. Take a minute to enjoy it.

In the Reddit comments for this image, someone noted their two directly conflicting desires, to push around the wheelbarrow and to stay as far away from that same wheelbarrow as physically possible. In a reply, another user stated “I don’t think it would be possible to push it even if he let you”.

This led me to wonder just how much a lion weighs. After all, a wheelbarrow is really just an advanced form of lever, one which makes it possible to transport heavier loads than one could otherwise carry. Because I had only recently woken up, I foolishly tried to get help from Siri, asking it “How much does a male lion weigh?”.

A siri reply saying “278 pounds”.

“Huh,” I thought, “OK.”

After a few seconds, I realized it was absolutely preposterous to have received such a precise number in response to my question. Was Siri providing me the weight of a specific specimen, perhaps a famous male lion? Does Siri have a pet lion, and know its weight? Do all male lions weigh in at exactly 278 pounds?

To examine this further, I asked again, and received the same answer.1 Reviewing the response, I noted that this answer was supposedly derived from Wikipedia:

I tapped in, and got a longer summary about lions:

That paragraph of text mentions a range of body lengths for lions, but it does not include any details about weight. In the brief table below that, it bizarrely lists an entry for mass as “3.64 lbs”. This too is a ridiculously precise value, with two decimal places, and one that’s surely incorrect.

Finally, I tapped “See More on Wikipedia”, and got to the page for “Lion”. I searched for both “278” and “3.64”, and found nothing.2 Eventually, I got to this section of the page:

Here, I finally found what I was looking for, a range of statistics for lions. It seems the correct answer to the question “How much does a male lion weigh?” is something like “between 350 and 500 pounds”, or about 25-80% more than Siri’s answer (and 100 times as much as that inexplicable “3.64 lb” value). I still have no idea how this idiot decided to respond “278 pounds”.

Anyhow, it’s 2021 and Siri is still trash. The end.

Update (February 20, 2021): The lion in the original image is “Obi”, and he lives at Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Canada. He weighs ~400 pounds.


  1. Not a given by any means. ↩︎

  2. Well, almost nothing. Searching for “278” returned one irrelevant result in the “References” section, for library reference number “JSTOR 27858577”. ↩︎

The Apple Watch Is Awfully Early

One day, when the sun engulfs the Earth, there will be no more bugs in the Apple Watch.

Today, it’s time for another exciting edition of “Paul’s Apple Dumbwatch”! Strap yourself in, and prepare to be amazed that something can be so broken nearly six years after it was introduced.

February is Black History Month in America, and this year, Apple created a special “Unity Challenge” to celebrate. Earning this badge required closing the “Move” ring on seven consecutive days in February.

The Unity Challenge - Earn this award by closing your Move ring seven days in a row in February

I’m very consistent about closing my Move ring, so I expected to receive this badge on Sunday, February 7th.1 Thus, I was more than a little surprised last night when I saw that it had already been awarded to me.

The Unity Challenge Badge front- You earned this award by closing your Move ring seven times in a row in February

I don’t know how I did that!

The Unity Challenge Badge back - Earned by Paul on February 1, 2021

If a badge requires completing a task for seven straight days within a month, you wouldn’t think it would be possible to earn on the very first day of the month. What can I say? I guess I must be pretty amazing.


  1. Because so many commenters bought it, I suppose it behooves me to make it clear that the aforelinked Instagram post was digitally edited. After earning the badge fair and square, I changed the title on the message for comedic purposes. The real title was something bland like “Good Job!”. The screenshots in this post are unaltered, save for cropping and resizing. ↩︎