Is Alexa a One Night Stand or Marriage Material?
I recently got an Amazon Echo. Super excited to experience this magical voice technology, I immediately set up my gal Alexa…and our first date started (big pressure because most first dates don’t usually start in one’s bedroom — literally on my nightstand).
I opened her carefully, gracefully, respectfully. I wanted her to stay. And I wanted her to feel right at home from go.
Alexa is seemingly sexy and has a lot of what I want in a (smart home) partner —nice on the eyes, pleasant voice, a bit clever (when asked the right question) and a really great weather reporter. Oh, and easy. Who doesn’t love easy?
Sadly, the honeymoon ended fast. Literally the morning after my first night with her — was I wearing beer goggles? Did looks deceive me?
Rapid decline. Was she hungover? Was I? She couldn’t answer most questions. I tried to make us some morning after eggs, but she couldn’t pull up any recipes. She did give me the Sunday news (but I couldn’t hear it in my bedroom when in the kitchen cooking). She couldn’t tell me how long it would take to get somewhere (just how far it is). She didn’t connect to anything else on my wifi. Her app was just annoying and fairly useless.
I felt like she wasn’t listening to me. She couldn’t understand me. I had to learn a whole new way to speak to her — definitely not natural language. I don’t speak that off-kilter from basic American English and she still couldn’t compute my speech — none of the basic words, places and terms I was using. (Siri at least understands me a little better).
The giddy from the night before was gone. And that ended our one night stand. But it didn’t. Because she was still there. The next morning..and every day since.
I know, I know, voice is apparently where it’s at (according to the industry pundits) but, so far, I’m not a believer. Controlling tech through voice is still not even close to natural. And unless you’re in a super techie household, anyone who hears you shouting “ALEXA, do xyz” thinks you sound like a fool. Sorry, but that’s the cold hard truth.
At face value, there’s nothing “smarter” about voice control today. Tap/touch/swipe/search/share on screens (of varying sizes) is standard human communications behavior with almost every age group and demographic. Both my mom (over 70) and my niece (under 7) can spin through an iPad/iPhone as easily as they can change channels on a cable box remote or make a phone call on a landline.
Perhaps combining voice control with gesture and touch would make me more of a believer. Maybe.
But until then, what do I with Alexa? She’s not a one stand and she’s not marriage material. So, maybe she’s just one of “those people” you put on the back burner and call randomly after midnight when you’re bored.
Echo’s Alexa is just a bootycall. Swipe left.
Maybe I’ll have a better time with Google Home. .
Disclosure — I work at Sonos. My thoughts here are my own and do not represent those of Sonos. At. All.