Monday, 13 October 2014

On being impolite to our smartphones

I'm behaving like an old person and getting disgruntled at new developments in technology. Google and Apple both have a voice-controlled thing in their various devices which allows you to speak your search query. You can activate this with a button, but now there's a way to make it notice that you want it by saying a specific thing. In the case of Google you have to say 'OK Google' and in the case of Apple you have to say 'Hey Siri' (Siri is the name of the pretend person in your iphone).

Both of these are very rude, 'Hey Siri' perhaps less so, but still rude nevertheless. I think it's just about OK to say 'hey' to a real person if, say, you were just talking to them and you're walking away and then you remember something and you want to signal to them that you want their attention again. Or you can say 'hey' instead of 'hi', if you know the person quite well. So perhaps you can say 'Hey Siri' as if you're saying 'hi' to it, but I haven't tested it to find out. From the inflection in the advert, it's much more like you're summoning a minion (which you are, but if they're going to make it sound like a real person, then you ought to treat it like a real person).

'OK Google', on the other hand, is just downright rude. It sounds to me as if Google is consistently messing up and you're resigned to that but giving it yet another chance to get it right. Poor Google. Or perhaps you're challenging it, like 'OK Google, you think you're so clever, try this'.

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