Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Jan 2017 23:02 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

In short, Amazon is building the operating system of the home - its name is Alexa - and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect:

  • All kinds of hardware manufacturers are lining up to build Alexa-enabled devices, and will inevitably compete with each other to improve quality and lower prices.
  • Even more devices and appliances are plugging into Alexa's easy-to-use and flexible framework, creating the conditions for a moat: appliances are a lot more expensive than software, and much longer lasting, which means everyone who buys something that works with Alexa is much less likely to switch.

It's definitely an interesting case to make - and Ben Thomspon does it well - but I still have a very, very hard time seeing voice-driven interfaces as anything but a gimmick at this point in time. Every point I made about this subject in the Summer of 2016 still stands today - limited functionality, terrible speech recognition, inability to deal with dialects and accents, and the complete and utter lack of support for people who live multilingual lives.

I can't hammer this last point home often enough: not a single one of the voice-driven interfaces we have today - Alexa, Siri, Google Now, Google Assistant, Cortana, whatever - support multilingual use. Some of them may allow you to go deep into a menu structure to change input language (while some, like smartwatches, even require a full wipe and reset), but that's not a solution to the problem of switching language sometimes even several times a minute, something multilingual people have to do dozens of times every day. And again - there are literally hundreds of millions of people who lead multilingual lives.

Heck, Alexa is only available in English and German!

If voice-driven interfaces are really as important as people make them out to be, they've got at least a decade of development ahead of them before they become actually useful and usable for the vast majority of the world.

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RE[2]: you really should try it
by kristoph on Sat 7th Jan 2017 00:43 UTC in reply to "RE: you really should try it"
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My *human* assistant wouldn't be able to do the things you just suggested are required of machine assistants, because she doesn't speak those languages ( she speaks 3, but we only have English in common ).

That does not make my human assistant useless, very much the contrary. Are you really going to tell me that if you had the option of an English speaking human assistant or no assistant you would rather choose not having one?

It's the same with machine assistants. I walk around my house all day asking siri to do simple stuff and she/it does them without any difficulty and I can only imagine Siri/Alexa/Google whatever will only improve rapidly.

Edited 2017-01-07 00:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2