My take on Digital Assitants, for now

Latest report reveal that Microsoft plans to expand the coverage of Cortana to iOS and Android, despite that both operating systems are rival to Windows. This is not very surprising as we did see examples like Google Search App dropped on iOS, etc. In late 2014, Amazon also joined the party by bringing Amazon Echo on the stage. So now everyone appears to be wanting to take a step up on digital assistant technology.

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Frankly speaking, I really seldom use digital assistant. Most of the time I don’t even turn on Siri on my iPhone because I do not have much work that requires her assistance. There are several main reasons:

1. I don’t drive
2. I type pretty fast and accurately
3. I utilize widgets with info and shortcuts that I need the most.
4. Quick Activator gestures integrated in workflow on jailbroken iPhone.

The core stuffs are the actual need and workflow integration, as simple as that.

Apple-Siri

If a specific tech can serve you better, fulfill your actual need, or do a better job than you can, yea why not? Let’s say you are cooking but you forget one step on how to deal with the ingredients; you want to call your mum but your hands are too dirty to touch on the phone, swipe to unlock, click on the Phone App icon, go to favourite, tab on your Mum’s contact, then tap on speaker phone… Here comes Siri’s job, “Hey Siri, Call my mum”. Maybe you just need to tap on the speaker phone icon to talk hand-free. Or you might have alternatives solution to preset default as speaker phone.

Another example could be, opening up garage gate if you want to drive in directly without getting off. Yes this really helps.

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Now, we talk about workflow. There are so many ways that we can actually do the job, instead of getting a voice assistant. I take 2 examples: first, turning on the light in living room. I did see demos of voice control. But you have to go to the living room or your won’t have to turn the lights on. Is it so hard for you to locate the power switch if this is your home actually? Are we just so lazy to do these by ourselves?

Another example is scheduling an appointment. I can do it fairly quickly in Calendar app simply by typing in all information needed, or in very detail including invites, etc. And here’s the workflow with Siri: invoking Siri, waiting for response, asking Siri to do it, confirming (or amending!) with Siri, waiting for Siri’s confirmation, and dismissing Siri. How many steps are there?

Now, I believe the OS developers do it right. There are apps, toggles, widgets, shortcuts; but also voice controls over these. This is really back to the basic question – how our own workflow is and which is the most comfortable for us.

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Of course, I am talking about something working under normal circumstances, not those situations that you are driving, you are in danger or whatsoever. But I want to emphasize, additional handling of techs when you are driving is seriously distracting you from driving, which many were misled.

To corporates, yes, 1 second saving on a specific workflow or job task could mean millions of savings of operating cost annually. To human, are we really wanting to trade-off between 1 second and putting more pressure and tension on ourselves? We aren’t living to drive ourselves to extreme limit, really.

stressed-out-kid

I am not totally against such tech. I’m a tech guy that I do think tech help us in a great extent as it grows. There is indeed real benefit that I gain from it, when I use it occasionally.

Say 10 years back, we used to do things smart, trying to do things smarter in any possibly ways that we can think of; but now it seems we need everything smart in our life to make us smarter, more efficient and to gain more controls with minimal efforts. Inevitably, this shift in mindset and behaviour drives tech giants, like Apple, Samsung, or even Xiaomi, very much diving into the unforeseeable and unpredictable rival on “SmartEverying” at any cost, plus support and integration with their existing expertise such as smartphone OS, digital assistant, search engine, maps, etc.

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Certainly, they are actually realizing many human dreams and imaginations that we see in movies and fictions. They invent, create, and improve, for dreams, and life. We did dream of smart home, voice control on everything at home, everything surrounding us, with a simple voice command.

On another hand, commercially speaking, they want market share; they want people to buy in their whole ecosystem and eventually can’t live without it.

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But, my standpoint is, it should be tech lives around us, assist us, say, like what we are talking about, in a form of Digital Voice Assistant. But not that we live around tech, we optimize it and make us live better. That’s not something healthy; that’s something caused people running into serious panic with increased dependency on such, which we don’t want to see ourselves to become.

In simple term, we should live in the way that we can stand electric blackout, without any assistance from advanced technologies that we have just got too used to and taken for granted.

The final thing is a fear of vulnerability. Now with technology advancement, we use more tech to help us live better, more efficiently and effectively. In this sense, we are more exposed to technology loopholes, phishing and monitoring. Our day-to-day life is very much tied up with modern technology, and we have so many things we can do or have done on that, like the graphic shown below.

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Apple and Google are now competing to get into the Smart Car market as soon as they can. As a very normal citizen on this planet, imagine, if we have this in our car, if it is hacked, and something could go wrong, which could be a threat to our lives.

Just like an iPhone, it is jailbreakble by talents if they can find vulnerabilities and exploits to leverage on. It’s hard but it happened. We have a full root access and control but at the same time this reveals loopholes for possible backdoor controls.

siri

Forgive me for being pessimistic or biased to such thought. But the fact is that, we all don’t want to see it be maliciously infected. Our lives depends on the tech giants to protect us from that.

Again, these are the 2 cents from me and that I can think of at this moment. Completely personal and it may differ much in your case. But this really leads me to think, the review on my life which is partially assisted with tech.

So, overall speaking, do you find Voice assistant useful and helpful in your daily workflow and life? Let me know by taking the vote below!

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