Nokia accuses Apple of Siri bias over smartphone answer

A man holds an iPhone displaying Siri Since launch, iPhone users have discovered unexpected answers from Siri

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The debate over "what is the best smartphone ever?" took an unexpected twist after Apple's voice-activated assistant Siri appeared to favour the iPhone's rival.

Over the weekend, users of Siri were told the answer was Nokia's Lumia 900.

But Siri now responds to the same question with a jovial: "Wait... there are other phones?"

Nokia has accused Apple of "overriding the software" after the quirk was noticed.

Apple would not confirm that a change had been made.

The Siri software, which is featured on Apple's iPhone 4S, uses the computational search engine Wolfram Alpha to serve answers to some questions.

'Flattered'

For a question such as "what is the best smartphone ever?", Wolfram Alpha would pool available reviews and comment in order to come up with what it feels is the right result.

In this instance, the "best" result was determined by reviews on the website of US retailer Best Buy.

Pardon?

Siri has offered some unexpected responses since launching on the iPhone 4S last year.

  • Scottish users of the feature were said to be frustrated over Siri's inability to understand their accent.
  • In December, Apple denied that it was stopping Siri from locating local abortion clinics, saying any misinformation was "not intentional".
  • When asked: 'What is the meaning of life?', Siri will reply "42", a nod to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Nokia's Lumia 900 - which launched in the UK this month - came out on top.

However, when asked the same question, the software no longer attempts to search Wolfram Alpha to find its answer, instead producing a default answer.

Nokia spokeswoman Tracey Postill told the Sydney Morning Herald: "Apple position Siri as the intelligent system that's there to help, but clearly if they don't like the answer, they override the software."

However, when contacted by the BBC, Nokia said Ms Postill's comments were "lighthearted" and "taken out of context".

"We were certainly flattered and honoured," Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson added.

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