Voice assistants: who actually wants to talk to their phone?

people with mobile phones

people with mobile phones

In a world of communicating with our devices, voice control seem to have gotten a lot of attention. But is that really what we want?

The voice focus in products

Looking at Siri in iOS, Voice Actions for Android, Google’s Project Glass and much more, there’s an amazingly strong focus on conversing with your phone/device. There is, or about to be, voice commands for any action you can think of, and more and more are added as we speak (sorry, not that funny).

Use cases

Usually with a new feature, it follows this approach:

  • It’s new! Use it! For everything!
  • It will increase our stock rating.
  • Still new-ish — pack it with features.
  • Eh… Is it adding any actual value to the user?
  • This one is relative, depending on the reply to #4:
  • Yes, it actually does
  • F**k it, it’s new!
  • Who cares?

With voice control, I get the obvious use case with driving a car and getting directions, having the phone read out some important information or you adding events, sending text messages or similar.

And if you’re working with your hands, e.g. a carpenter, sure, I can see some usage there.

But otherwise, how often are the majority of people or the use cases for a phone in such situations? And it’s not like the ads for voice control seems to target those job groups anyway – it’s usually some hipster busy with his hair or making his jeans even tighter…

Silence is golden

I’m probably going to sound like an old grumpy man now, but I do believe silence can be golden at times. I’m picturing people everywhere, talking to their devices, adding things, sending mail etc. — all through voice commands.

If you’re cringing now when someone is on the phone on the bus/subway talking about what groceries to shop, or is dealing with relationship issues, just wait for what the brave new world has in store for you.

And before the technology is refined enough, just picture the number of people screaming at their devices when they don’t understand. The level of device-directed profanity in public places will be massive.


At the end, I think it actually also comes down to integrity. The first part is more to do with security, where people can find out a lot of information about you through listening to you giving your phone commands.

The second part is that, for your own sake, keeping things to yourself and adding them to your phone through touch/keyboard input is much better. You don’t have to share everything with the world, you know.

What about you?

Maybe I’m off here, maybe everyone else see this as an amazing revolution, the next vital part of evolving. Or, it’s has been hyped up way too much.

This article by Robert Nyman originally appeared on Robert’s Talk and is republished with permission.



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