According to Google’s “Ten things we know to be true”, Google strives to “Focus on the user…” knowing, “…all else will follow.” Google became the dominant search engine by offering a simple, usable interface on top of great search technology. It just works.
Apple introduced a new voice-activated personal assistant, called Siri, in its new iPhone 4S. I have one and it’s amazing. Ask it “Will it rain tomorrow?” and it responds with a quick look at the forecast. Tell it to send a text to your business partner, or your daughter, and it opens the messaging app and asks you what you’d like to say. Speak your message, tell it to send, and you’re done. Again, it just works.
I bring this up because there’s a raging debate right now on Google+ about whether Siri is just a re-heated version of Android’s Voice Actions, who got there first, and, near as I can figure, whose dad can beat up whose.
One commenter on the thread noted, “Everyone is spitting chips about [Siri's] useless ‘Natural speach (sic) recognition’ – Basically for idiots that cant (sic) remember 5 commands…”
Pity his spell checker doesn’t just work.
Ignoring the “idiots” part for a moment, the key here is “can’t remember 5 commands.” I’ve had an Android phone for the better part of three years. And I used Voice Actions maybe 5 times. Why? Because it didn’t “just work.” I had to learn how the tool wanted me to work. And, frankly, remembering those 5 commands wasn’t worth the time or benefit. With Siri, I don’t have to remember any commands. I just say what I want to say and, more often than not, it just works.
Now, this isn’t meant as a review of Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android operating systems. I also don’t care whose dad can beat up whose.
More importantly, neither do your customers.
You see, the problem with Android Voice Actions is that it focuses on the technology, not the user. I don’t know if Apple is using superior technology than Google. Maybe they’re not. I don’t know if Siri is going to “win” the race forever. Maybe they won’t. But, as an “idiot user” (though I prefer “moron in a hurry”), I can tell you that Siri is much more useful than Voice Actions and that, at least over the last few days, I use it all the time.
Maybe the novelty will wear off. And, if Google focuses on its users’ needs with the next version of Voice Actions—as they’ve done with their search engine for years—maybe they’ll have the best tool on the marketplace. But, right now, there’s no question in my mind that Siri is the best user experience on the market for voice control. It just works.
If you think your customers consist of “idiots” who “can’t remember” what you want them to do, then that’s your problem, not theirs. Because they’re not idiots. Or “morons in a hurry.” What they care about is whether your product solves their problem—and whether or not it just works.
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