I have had Amazon’s Alexa for a number of years now. I was one of the early testers and it has moved from living room, to kitchen with it now residing behind the toilet in the bathroom. The problem with this voice activated wonder, is that I blank every time I try to ask it something.
Sure it is easy to ask it the state of the weather (though you can easily just look outside the window for as much data), or you can ask the current time (really?) or set a timer (though, trying turning the bloody thing off again when there is bang ground noise).
The big thing however, is playing music from your Amazon Prime account. You can ask it play to a whole manner of combinations. The problem however, is that you completely blank when it comes to choosing something. What happens is that you keep playing the same shit over and over again because you can’t think of anything new.
The problem with a voice activated device with no UI, is that you can’t be inspired. You can’t scroll past some albums and discover something from your archive. You can’t even even do this with the Alexa app and then send it to the device for playing.
Then there comes to actually trying it to get to play the album you want. It’s a frigging nightmare. It simply can’t handle long complicated titles. Miranda Lambert’s, Weight of these wings, is a constant problem to try and get it to play.
And this is where I have to take issue with Amazon. They happily display in the app, the successful voice commands asking if Alexa did what you asked. However, they do not show the unsuccessful ones. I therefore cannot feedback this poor interaction with Alexa.
It scares the crap out of me that the future of computer interaction could be our voice. No way. Alexa is suppose to hear even when playing music, but it can’t. Once you are rocking to a track, it frequently misses your command to stop. I have had to resort to hitting the button on top of the unit to kill the play.
Alexa is a great idea. The notion of it sounds fantastic, the reality however, is that it is like talking to your elderly grandparents, who are half deaf and have no clue what the zeitgeist of the day is.
Here is hoping for a better linguistic future.