Why is Siri limited to 8 countries on Apple TV? Apple teaches movie & TV show pronunciations for each country


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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  1. srgmac - 7 years ago

    Matt-hyou Mack-con-ayg-hee

  2. Paul Van Obberghen - 7 years ago

    This is a fact here in Belgium, where we speak mainly French and Flemish (which is like Dutch). But in Belgium, TV shows and movies are most likely to be named with their original English titles and Siri wont understand that you are mixing languages in a same phrase.
    This is the case with Siri and the iPhone (mine is set to French). If I call “jouer Driver’s Seat”, how careful I am at pronoucing it, Siri wont find this title in my music library though it is there, not understanding that “Driver’s Seat” is actually English. Let’s hope that fixing Siri on the Apple TV for such an issue will eventually fix Siri on the iPhone where mixing languages is a serious limitation.

  3. arniex007 - 7 years ago

    This argument is not strong enough for me to accept that Apple did what they did. In my country (Czech Republic) there is no Czech Siri, but still I can use English Siri and I’m happy that I can turn it on and use it. But with Apple TV, even-thought I bought it in US I can’t in any way turn Siri ON which is just wrong. I paid the same as anyone else so I would love to have the same functions. And I will gladly live with it’s imperfections in understanding my pronunciation to only have the option to use it. For example to turn on Applications, they don’t really need any super special training here. For some other commands like “What is the weather like today?”, “What did he say?”, etc. there is no need for special training too. Specifically weather forecast is another thing you can’t get to other way then by Siri so this is other function missing from my purchase. My message to Apple is, please allow users to just turn on Siri in any language they want and speak and just warn them, that the experience can be imperfect. Many will happily live with imperfect experience than none at all!

    • Use your US Apple ID, set the Language to english and the Region to United States and have fun with Siri!

      • arniex007 - 7 years ago

        Thats the problem I do not have US Apple ID obviously because I wanna use czech applications and I do not want to have more accounts. I have thought set English as main language on all Apple products as Czech translation is really bad.

      • Nicklas Lind - 7 years ago

        Does this work with the new Apple TV? Do you know if it will enable Siri in “unsupported” countries?

    • marcelhaering - 7 years ago

      I feel your pain! I live in Switzerland but my mother tongue is English. My wife is Chinese, so we use all apple products in English. So why can’t we use Siri in English like on the iPhone? I understand they want to update Siri to understand the Swiss accents of German, French and Italian to access the Swiss store but what if you want to use it in the “original” language? I won’t create an American apple id just because of the language! They should have included Siri in English out of the box. I really hope they will add this option in the near future.

    • jackappleseed - 7 years ago

      arniex007 – Hello, I’d like to reply to your second post in this thread and your statement “I have thought set English as main language on all Apple products as Czech translation is really bad”. Without trying to troll or cause any flames, I was wondering whether you can come up with some more detailed examples or cases where is Czech localization really bad. Stating that Czech is bad on all Apple products is just too general and sounds a little bit polarized. You don’t seem as a usual ‘Apple hater’, because you clearly use Apple’s products. So do I, and I use them in Czech as well, and I don’t see the Czech localization as “really bad on all Apple products” at all. Thank you.
      (Since we both speak Czech, we can discuss via personal messages if this forum allows it, thank you.)

      • Martin Doubek - 7 years ago

        Well I do not see any option to send you direct msg but let me shortly answer to you concern about translation. My reason to use all devices in english is not only a bad quality of translation but also just being used to english. I had iPhone since iPhone 3G and at that time, there wasn’t czech language at all available on Apple’s products. So I got used to english environment and when I tried czech once it was available I just hated it right from beginning for example (Slide to unlock => Odemknout) that is just not the same and there are many more examples I didn’t like. But this is not only problem on Apple’s devices but also other devices and systems, even Android is just crazy in czech etc.. My second reason to not like it is that most of the day I speak english, write english emails, read english articles, browse web in english. So I generally don’t really like to use anything that isn’t originally czech in czech language. For example when I use czech applications I like to have them in czech because then english translation is often bad. So I’m not Apple hater, obviously, I just tend to use things in original language as they were engineered with it and any other translation just doesn’t fit there.

  4. PMZanetti - 7 years ago

    The better question is why are there more things you can’t do with your voice on AppleTV, than can.

  5. Sigh. The popular countries always get the nice things and the cool stuff first. Maybe that’s why they’re popular.

    • Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

      People keep coming over the border to take advantage of Siri.

      • arniex007 - 7 years ago

        Imigration: What is purpose of your visit sir?
        Me: I wanna use Siri on my Apple TV
        Imigration: Have you abused drugs recently Sir??


  6. Moises Agudo - 7 years ago

    Why is SIRI still missing from OS X? That is the most important question to ask. If Windows 10 can have Cortana, why can’t El Capitan have SIRI? I am currently using Cortana on Windows 10 on my iMac, no bootcamp either. Why does Apple always drag their feet when it comes to these type of items? If they were hoping that I would buy into the iOS toys, boy are they wrong.

    • elilabes - 7 years ago

      because when apple does it, it will be done right. Sometimes that means it takes longer to come to market.

  7. Gary Kirk - 7 years ago

    I received a new Apple TV, plugged it in and hated it almost instantly. I had to download all the apps that I use like Netflix, HBOGO, Showtime Anytime, etc, etc. The new remote has a touch mouse to move the cursor, so typing in usernames and passwords was even more difficult than previous versions. (Guess they want you to buy a bluetooth keyboard.) All the letters were in one long row, so shifting back and forth between letters and numbers was very tedious. But the MOST annoying feature was every single swipe was also spoken by the system. Left, up, third row, endlessly speaking the movement. I turned off Siri, but the damn thing just kept talking. Back in the box it went and I mailed it back to Apple yesterday. They really jumped the shark on this one.

    • Cedrickp32 (@cedrickp32) - 7 years ago

      I think you activated voice over accidently :

      Apple has integrated its critically-acclaimed screen-reading technology to the Apple TV. It works pretty much the same way it does on an iPhone or iPad. A triple-click of the Menu button on the Siri Remote activates VoiceOver, and you can use the touch part to move through options. Note that there is an initial setup process, but after that, VoiceOver will read aloud everything on screen as it should.

  8. Harald Gaerttner - 7 years ago

    Too bad they don’t do it on iPhone/iPad the same way … that renders Siri for music useless. Try German language and then call for an english music title ;-)

    • saschamt - 7 years ago

      I’ve also experienced this. It makes for some comical situations though if you try to search for artists in order to show off Siri to F&F.

  9. job503 - 7 years ago

    So does thus say that i just can buy an apple tv (netherlands) and then just wait until the update it??


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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.