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Confession: I've had an Echo and a Google Home for a month and never use either anymore.
154 replies and sub-replies as of Mar 23 2017

(Of course, this is partly because I buy approximately one thing a month from Amazon and it isn't soap)
Echo, Google Home & Apple Watch all pose same question - "I could do that on my phone so why is this better?" People's answers vary wildly
So far ML has been applied to the connected home to make voice work. Wondering if imaging might be more productive.
Which is better - a light switch, saying 'hey, turn on the lights', or something that can see you walked into the room?
That question seems to assume that the switch is only for turning lights on, but a switch since the others are bad for "off."
If reliable, the former.
also, should it be the switch, the bulb, the lamp, the outlet, a camera, a hub, a remote?
something you can see imvho
a light switch
It's almost never a person-sensing switch. Not a generally applicable solution. The others can be.
my mum has one of those on her garden shed already. Fairly low cpu power, too ;-)
both. because #userexperience isn't binary.
The Clapper 👏 👏
but how do you get over the creep factor of an internet connected camera in every room?
no need for internet connection
I've mainly use it for music and to check the weather. Less screen time.
Agree. I've resisted for the same reason, this isn't the 'AI' revolution, we're in the uncanny 'Virtuality' stages still.
something that *knows* YOU walked into the room (as opposed to your wife, who may have different preferences).
Degrees of cognitive effort by decreasing cost: Speaking > physically toggling a switch > waving at a sensor > gestureless.
even better... Can tell you've walked in the room naked, and the blind is open, so doesn't turn on the lights!
I think that's just you Rob!
my newish GP consulting room has body sensor switch. Problem: need light off when looking at back of eye.
we have them, they are PIR sensors, I have them all down the path to my office.
Sensor for single room, speaking for whole house/scenes.
Sensing > Light switch > voice control
A light switch.
automate lights when you walk in a room is great but what about TV, music, thermostat... it is now all connected.
well, dropcam.
not much ML in that
was in the counterfactual!
imaging currently missing intention. you’re talking presence which can be sensed multiple ways
google photos is magical, so there's your vision case
probably a combo. I also think discreet gestures and/or lip-reading would help. Issue is all learning all the exceptions.
Who controls the *multiple* destinations of the images? Really? No, really?
the images don't necessarily have to leave the device
IoT bots. How does the consumer know where the images go? How does inept mfr know?
I suspect that’s because the answers are highly individual to the user.
Voice controlled music, workout and home automation are my main use cases
Benedict, I hear ya. Every new modality has the same headwinds. E.g.: "Why send email, when I can call them on a tele-phone"
Why call them on the tele-phone when I can send a telegram?
Why would anyone use the Tele-phone other than to confirm the telegraph message was received?
I have this perfectly fine cuneiform wedge right here. #originaltablet
Horace, you are cracking me up over here!
In case of my household, we don't anthropomorphise our phones but we're well down that road w/ Alexa. Changes interaction.
My 2 and 4 year old LOVE that they can control Spotify via Echo. "Alexa, play the gummie bear song"
The biggest legacy these devices are going to have is likely developing the tech to put them where they *should* be.
We're still figuring that out, but it seems clear that there are many smaller markets for more specific uses.
It is highly variable. I find the Echo convenient for controlling lights, quick bits of info, timers, etc. Others don't.
It works great for elderly. My father in his 80s can't use tech, but loves his echo for radio, lighting, weather etc
If Apple had an equivalent, I'd use it a lot for sending messages, adding reminders, calendar updates, etc.
I used to think the same about tablets, but now kids prefers tablets over laptops.
If you like to blab,you love a voice UX. If not, multitouch interface to a service is more appealing. Combo of both will win.
Maybe their designers all spend their time at home wearing just pants.
Have you connected your home to a Chromecast? Voice control of video is killer feature imo
In that case I don't blame you. Cooking with dirty hands and your curiosity strikes is my next best use case
the Echo makes a hell of an alarm clock
better because you avoid all the distractions on your phone
Cooking/kitchen work mainly (measurements, timer, etc). don't have to stop/look for phone/clean hands b4 using phone, etc.
I used to never wear a watch. Now? All the time. It's good for the basics. Considering an Echo but waiting for Apple(?)
do you cook in your kitchen? And use your phone then instead of your Echo?
is this because you don't buy much stuff or because you buy it elsewhere?
was the same until i started using timer & alarm, replaced my iPhone for that. skills and IFTTT int. are still awkward though
i want to use Echo daily for music, but no Apple/Google Music integration means i have to roll the dice. dang ecosystems :(
slightly shocked that you don't use Amazon for home shopping. Are we to assume you shop in... meatspace!? 😱🤔
Not getting the soap reference tbh.
Soylent? :)
more just party guests who try to change the music. 👎
not even to play music without needing ur phone? My sonos sits quietly next to my google home
do you have kids? (we use it all the time!)
Even as just a speaker?
how many music services am I supposed to sign up to?
Just your favorite one. All I really use the Echo for is Spotify, Audible and to tell me the weather.
Music and turning off the lights from my bed are by far the most used.
Is it technology looking for a problem or too early in use case discovery?
Neither, I think. Many people I know use their Echo for everything and find it quite addictive.
“Everything”? doubtful.
Few for me. For others I know, they have it connected to TV, lights, appliances, speakers etc.
I know that Alexa can do many things, I just don’t know what they are. Early smartphones were the same way.
Good point, early smartphones did do too much, trying to be a PC.
unlike the iPhone which only did a few things, there wasn’t even an AppStore for a while.
Remember the Motorola Atrix? That thing literally tried to become a PC. And won Best of CES.
The death knell for any product.
Point: from 2008-2011, people knew smartphones could do amazing things, just didn’t know how to do those things.
It made them feel stupid in the face of new technology. For me, I had that feeling with my Echo.
Is it in Benedict's drawer of devices past?
Not mine (yet). But the lede to my Sunday newsletter this week is about how smartwatches are in that drawer.
lots of androids, very few apples, on the data I've seen
Watch is completely integrated into my daily routine…Previously haven’t worn a watch in 15 years.
Not sure how much I trust a resource that has distinct dog in the fight on whether a product succeeds.
Benedict, the missing element is proactivity. I am fixing that. Makes a one way road a super highway.
if tech doesn't make a routine task clearly faster or higher quality, then it's not worth using. Just cooler way to do less.
Alexa in the kitchen and I barely use it, Google Home right on my desk and I use it all the time
because of Home features? Or the placement of the device vs. kitchen? @BenedictEvans
I bet you don’t have many home automation smart devices? Light switches, bulbs, outlets, IoT devices…etc
as assistants and music players they are subpar at best. The magic happens when you can say "turn on the Christmas tree 🎄"
what I really think the smart home market needs is a better non-voice method to control the environment around you
wouldn't you want to control from anywhere in and outside the house ⌚️📱instead of a dedicated device ☎️?
do you use your  Watch?
what about "Hey Siri"?
I shouldn't be surprised since your use mirrors mine (except that I don't have Google Home or an Echo to neglect 😉)
these things are mostly useful when your hands aren't free. Watch Siri great while driving. Echo for cooking. etc
but with uber, food delivery, etc. I suppose the benefit isn't really there
I work from home and take my time in the morning for breakfast, echo is amazing for me.
I can toss on some music and change it easily, ask for the news or my schedule, etc without my phone.
It makes my mornings feel a touch less stressful than having to constantly pick up / look at a screen.
can't you do this with a phone these days? And how does that work for multiple users?
Of course you can. But while I'm enjoying making and eating breakfast, I don't want to be picking up my phone. :)
Talking to robots is still more like a phone tree than a human. #chatbots #notthereyet
I like my Echo, but it was a gift – and the functions I use do not come close to justifying the price tag.
my wife unplugged the Echo dot after it kept getting triggered by the TV.
well, I don't have a TV either
yep, the command line's problem for most was not the obscurity of the commands.
that's the only nail in the coffin I need. We'll talk next year connected home...
Thanks, I was sort of considering buying an Echo for Christmas. Not anymore. I know I'd not use it.
Really? Care to elaborate? Been thinking about getting them.
they are a solution in search of a problem
I can fix that: “Alexa play radio 4”
do they get along well enough though?
Curious to know your thoughts on voice as an interface/input layer. I think:
Mind-reading interfaces has to be the next UI thing. You can't speak to your phone in public, even though it's more convenient than typing.
If Echo + Home were proactive, they would be 10x more useful.
Imagine if it just pinged, and you confirm with a 'yes' gesture, then it told you something important.
Voice recognition has a loooooooong ways to go.
I don't get the obsession with voice interface. Even if it worked perfectly, has so many disadvantages to glass.
voice would be great interface to a strong AI. It's like we're obsessed with steering wheels before cars arrived.
OTOH assuming that good voice recognition and stronger AI probably evolve along the same path…
But voice interfaces will be so much fun on public transport, in open office spaces, and much more! 😈
Novelty wears off quite quickly
ok. if we're being honest here.... I have the fire remote but don't use Alexa Siri is for basic stuff but not much
the why is simple. they are both TOO SLOW for me... really
I'm finding my most common use is for my 13 year old son to play the hamilton soundtrack. Repeatedly.
I'd probably approach an Echo like I'd approach a self-driving car - where are the damn cup holders?
People are phobic about speaking with inanimate objects. Coke-a-Cola learned this with talking vending machines in the 1990's
when is the thing that does my dishes available; these are useless.
surprisingly my first repetitive use of Echo was dual timers. Then came lights, then radio.
Alexa has really forced my 5 year old to enunciate better
I suppose if the technology was truly prime time he wouldn't have to. But this is just Voice 1.0
dragon dictate was voice 0.1 too early for it's time
Hey, those botnets wont build themselves you know-wait scratch that I may have just given someone a startup idea.
The solution is not how to make a light switch better at switching. It's how to not have switches. Echo and GH are veneers.
What would get you to use the Echo? We tested; & found a host of reasons as to why people use the Echo in only a limited way
I don't think voice interfaces are going to be popular any time soon.