Although the Siri changes slated for iOS 15 were primarily focused on third-party Siri integrations in areas like CarPlay, Lists and Notes, Payments, Photos, Visual Codes, VoIP Calling, and Ride Booking, it looks like Siri has also forgotten how to handle phone calls, voicemails, and sending emails.
Instead, requests like these result in Siri telling you that it “can’t help you with that,” and presenting a button to open the appropriate app, such as Mail or Phone.
The problem also doesn’t seem to be limited to iOS 15, either. Users are reporting it on older devices that can’t be updated beyond iOS 12, and even those running iOS 13 and iOS 14.
To add insult to injury, these Siri features are extremely valuable to people who are blind or have other vision impairments, and many are already raising their concerns on AppleVis forums, a site dedicated to helping blind and low vision users of Apple products.
We’ve already seen some indications that Apple has been working to streamline Siri by eliminating some of its lesser-used features, but a new report suggests that Apple’s voice assistant may have just taken a considerable step backward, with a number of important Siri capabilities disappearing as well.
For example, as first reported by MacRumors, Siri commands like the following no longer work at all:
One of the people whom I support told me that she could no longer use Siri to send email from her iPhone 8 with iOS 14. I tried on my iPhone SE with iOS 15.0 and the response from Siri was “sorry, I can’t help with that’. Subsequently, I’ve had the same response on a phone running iOS 12. If this is a deliberate feature removal, it’s certainly a loss to some users with sight loss who find it a convenient way to send a brief email.
This suggests that the problem is a result of some change to Siri on the back-end, and many are hoping this is simply a mistake, rather than a deliberate change on Apple’s part.
One of the users at AppleVis reached out to Apple Support and was told that they are aware of the issue, and it’s “currently under review,” but didn’t offer any additional details on when — or even if — the problem will be resolved. Considering Apple’s strong focus on Accessibility features, it’s very hard to believe that it would have made the choice to remove such critical features, so we’re definitely leaning toward believing that this is a bug. If so, it’s also something that Apple should be able to fix on the back end without the need for an iOS update.
The disappearance of these commands with the release of iOS 15 suggests that they’re somehow related to back-end changes Apple made to support new iOS 15 features, such as offline Siri support. Since all these sound like requests that Siri should be able to handle offline, it’s possible that this is where the disconnect occurred. Notably, commands like “Play my most recent voicemail” still work properly, suggesting that Apple hasn’t removed all of this functionality, although that one doesn’t work offline in iOS 15; instead, Siri will tell you that “It looks like you haven’t set up your Voicemail,” and prompt you to open the Phone app.
Further, if you ask Siri to “send an email” in iOS 15 while your iPhone is offline, it will respond by telling you that “To do that, you’ll need to be online.” Yet, when you’re actually online, Siri simply tells prompts you to open the Mail app — which of course you could have done offline as well. Despite these limitations, you can also still place calls to any of your contacts using Siri, and you can even ask Siri to make calls while offline in iOS 15 — as long as you have a connection to the cellular voice network, of course. Checking messages and composing messages also works offline, so it seems odd that you wouldn’t also be able to do this with emails in the Mail app.
Although several publications have asked Apple for a comment on this problem, the company has yet to respond publicly. We can only hope that its AI teams are frantically at work retraining Siri to properly handle these things.