Usability Testing of Siri with Apple's Weather App

This purpose of this usability test was to test the speech recognition software of Siri in combination with Apple's Weather App. The goal of this study was to understand how a user who needs to know about weather conditions, but might not be able to use their touchscreen would use Siri in combination with Apple's weather app. 

The goal of this study was to understand how a user who needs to know about weather conditions, but might not be able to use their touchscreen would use Siri in combination with Apple's weather app


megan wilson, luis sierra-gamboa, siyi kou

my role

created usability test plan, usability testing, and report creation


3 weeks

research methods

usability testing, think-aloud, coding data, report creation


The Problem

1. What obstacles exist for gardeners when checking the weather using Siri on an Apple Iphone?

2. What features could be created to make the process of checking the weather using Siri on an Apple Iphone easier?



• 5 participants in think- aloud Usability tests 

• A screener and usability test plan were created to test on participants

• Participants were asked to complete 3 separate task



We conducted three informal usability tests to test our prototype on potential users.

1. Ask Siri About the Weather in Celsius/Fahrenheit

The first task was focused on prompting the participants to ask Siri about the weather in their non-preferred unit of temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit). This task is included, because different cultures use different measurement of temperature. When gardening together, gardeners need to communicate the temperature in a way that makes sense to the both of them, regardless of their preferred unit of temperature. We wanted to find out how participants will ask Siri to receive that specific information and how comfortable they felt about completing the task. To succeed in this task, participants will be provided with the accurate weather forecast using the unit of temperature they are not familiar with.

2. Ask Siri About What the Weather is Going to be Like in 3 Hours

For the second task, participants asked Siri about the weather three hours from now. This task was included because gardeners need this information to plan their gardening activities. For example, gardeners need to know when it is more appropriate to water their plants during the day. We wanted to see how people will ask this question, and if they think the answer they received was satisfactory to their inquiries. To succeed in this task, participants need to receive the weather forecast for three hours into the future for a specific day.

3. Ask Siri About the Wind

For the third task, participants asked Siri about the wind. This task was included because the wind speed greatly affects plant growth, such as pollination and general health. We wanted to see how people asked Siri to perform this task and how satisfied they were towards the answers that they received. To succeed in this task, participants get Siri to display the wind information or say it aloud.


General Findings

Pre-task interview

All of our participants are familiar with Siri, whether they use it frequently or not. Most of them use the weather app for their personal use rather than checking the weather for their plant. Siri seems to be designed in a similar fashion; it only provides information for daily use.

Task 1:

All participants successfully completed this task and received information about the weather.

We identified that a majority of the participants were comfortable with the question. They thought it was a common question and Siri should know the answer. Most participants mentioned that Siri was able to provide a quick and clear answer.

“I can think of what I am going to say, seems like a easy command.”

Task 2:

All participants were able to successfully complete this task. Many expressed that they had not done this before, but they generally did not expect much difficulty in asking this question.

They were mostly happy with the result Siri pulls out. However, 3 out of 5 people said that they did not think the result produced was as precise as they would expect. It only provided a “quick answer.”

“I don’t think it is precise on the answer, but it is there.”

Task 3:

Participants felt a little strange when we inquired them to ask Siri about this particular question. However, all participants were able to finish the task successfully. Most of them were surprised to find out that Siri provided them with an answer about the wind.

Many expressed that they expected Siri to provide a wikipedia page about the wind and its definition. Many expressed concern that if they were looking for a more general understanding on the term wind, they would be disappointed.

”I think Siri can grasp the keyword very easy. The problem is the discrepancy between my cognition and Siri. We don’t think the same thing.“


Next Steps

  • Improve the voice-recognition function of Siri, especially in situations where assimilation and coarticulation are common.
  • Develop natural language software with the ability to remember previous questions/statements and make inferences from those previous questions/statements.
  • Develop customizable add-on functions for Siri’s weather forecast.
  • Allow Siri to provide more vocal information. Siri should be able to speak the answers to the specific question asked, rather than just give graphical information. For example, when asked about the future temperature in the day, it should at least give the temperature verbally.
  • Design more explicit infographics for the weather information.