2013-07-23

OK, Google: Does Voice Control Really Make Sense On A Smartphone?

Google seems to think you want to talk to your devices. Is anyone actually asking for these features?



Google's erstwhile smartphone manufacturing business Motorola Mobility is busy unveiling a bunch of new smartphones right now, but there's already one big takeaway from the three new Droid phones that will be hitting Verizon later in 2013: You'll be talking to these phones a bunch, as well as talking with them.

That's because these phones will respond to commands beginning "OK Google Now..." in different ways. For example, "OK Google Now, call my Droid" will call your phone for you so you can locate it under that pile of dirty clothes on your bed. You'll also be able to wake up your device from a sleepy state with the "OK" command, and pull off a number of other features we don't know about yet. It basically means that like Google Glass, which is voice commanded with the "OK Glass" command, the Droids are constantly listening out for your commands.

That tech may,or may not freak you out all by itself. It's convenient, sure. But it also is a bit...odd, don't you think? We're pretty convinced that soon enough we won't think it odd when we overhear folks chatting at their devices in a public setting (just as we got over the whole "gabbling madly to themselves" issue when headphone mics became standard phone accessories). But the whole "OK Google" thing is quickly going to get annoying. Thank goodness it wasn't "pew pew" or "go go!". Yuck.

But since voice tech is expanding, this news really makes us wonder what on Earth would Apple use as an activation phrase for its legion of iDevices when it makes Siri cleverer? "Dear Siri," or perhaps "Darling Siri"? "iPhone ON"? Will we hear "Computer: Tea, Earl Grey. Hot." as a command spoken to some future Mac? Would Apple go for something simpler, classier, less odd like a plain ol' "Hello"? Or something tapping Jony Ive's heritage like "Ol' chap"?

As a developer this sort of voice activation future is looming over potentially every app you create. How will you mitigate the weirdness of using a keyword activation system like this, or can you already think of clever ways to capitalize on it?

[Image: Flickr user Brennan Schnell]






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2 Comments

  • Deac

    Accuracy drops dramatically when trying to process a query in a noisy environment which makes using it frustrating and a waste of time.

  • strfx4

    Huh?  Is this coming from the same guy who declared that salvation was upon us when Siri was released?