When Siri came into our lives (and our phones), we had high hopes. Sadly, the Apple marketing team sort of oversold the idea, overpromising and under-delivering.
But, she’s made up of teachable code. Since 2011, she’s been picking up a few tips here and there, not to mention she had a visionary team working on her.
Google Now on the other hand was faster, had access to the world’s most powerful search engine and did Siri’s job better. That doesn’t mean Google Now doesn’t suck. It does. For one, it has no personality. No sense of humor. Where Siri would get my jokes and throw some of hers, Google Now might as well be a robot.
So I have an assistant that thinks fast but talks like a robot and I have another that is funny but takes forever to respond.
Now I know how it feels to double date.
Enough of my rant. Here’s what I would like all voice assistants to be able to do.
Personality is a must. In fact, I wouldn’t mind a personality slider. If you’ve ever played The Sims, you’ll have a very good idea what I’m referring to. People may have predominant personality traits but they are socially conscious. They read body language. They know when to make jokes, (and when not to). Short of your phone reading your body temperature, your blinking rate, your pulse etc, (which is honestly more creepy than helpful), the best we could do is create a personality slider whereby you can regulate your assistant’s sass.
Another idea. I wouldn’t mind my voice assistant noticing I’ve been watching a lot of weightlifting videos in the past two weeks. And I also love WWE. A quick, “Maybe you should get a gym membership, seems like you’re already thinking about it. Besides, John Cena didn’t get those abs simply by googling”.
Now that is an assistant I’d pay money to have.
I know a lot of insomniacs. I used to be one. So, I’m familiar with the pain of lying awake in bed for hours, waiting for sleep. There should be an “I can’t sleep” button. Pressing it should get your voice assistant to chat you up, simulating conversation. After all, everyone else is asleep. So, why not?
The phone’s been with you all day. It knows almost everything you did, everywhere you went, all your search results, in short everything it needs to simulate a conversation. Short of that, it could just bring up your favorite topics and tell you random facts about it. And while we’re on the topic, why not let it learn slang? I use a couple of non-English words a lot. I wouldn’t mind my assistant saying them right back at me.
Changeable names please
One thing I like about Google Now is it gets better at recognising your voice. Even the way you pronounce words. At the moment, I can ask Google to call 90% of the names on my contact list. A lot of them are indigenous names. I just don’t know why it doesn’t have a proper name. Heck, even new kid on the block, Cortana, has a kickass name.
What would be even better? Being able to change their names. So, Siri can become Steve. Or Gbenga. Or Luke Skywalker.