All this noise about Voice Assistants!

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Intro

Siri was a gimmick, let’s be honest with ourselves. And Microsoft is close on Apple’s heels to counter that move with a voice assistant of their own. This “you-will-do-it-then-so-will-I” move is honestly not going to get Microsoft anything, apart from the huge bills from the R and D teams.

So will this be another nail in the coffin for Windows Phone OS or will it be a real game changer?
Let’s dig a little deeper…

A decoy called Siri

When Siri was launched back in 2011, it set the tech-media abuzz. But what a lot of people failed to see was, there was nothing else Apple had to showcase in the iPhone 4S. It was more like a decoy, overshadowing Apple’s weakness.
On the positive side, it generated a lot of PR for Apple. “A talking assistant! WOW!” “Apple does it again…” and so on. There was so much hoopla around it, that practicality took a backseat. Given Apple’s history of innovation, it is no surprise that Siri too was considered one. But what good is a technology that doesn’t work in real life. By that logic, Google Glass should be deemed as a massive success, skyrocketing its shares, putting it above Apple.
All said and done, there are many things we can learn from Siri. And one of the biggest thing is, it’s not our benchmark.

One place Siri works perfectly…

Then who is Microsoft’s actual competition when it comes to a good voice assistant? The answer is, Google Now. If you have interacted with Google Now even once, you will know it blows Siri out of water. Pitch perfect prediction, every time.
With Windows Phone 9 reportedly in an Alpha testing stage and 8.1 just around the corner, the hopes are bound to surge. Apps, functionality upgrades and good hardware. A part of this upgrade bundle is codename Cortana, a voice assistant, much like Siri, integrated to the deepest level, almost overwriting Bing’s role in the OS.
Just one small problem, Siri is not even half as good as Google Now. If Microsoft is really serious about developing a voice assistant, they shouldn’t do it because all the Oss have one. They should do it because Windows Phone needs it. And frankly it doesn’t. Or just the way they broke the norm of the grid-icon layout with Live Tiles, they should do so, even with a virtual assistant.
It is safe to say, and many Apple fans would agree, even though they won’t admit it, that Siri sucks. But one place it works perfectly… is in commercials.

The future is Star Trek

Windows Phone has evolved slowly. And to a great extent, they have resisted copying anything from the competition. From hardware specs to apps to user interface. It then makes me wonder, why break the norm for a virtual assistant. They may be fun, but I see the number of people using it is drop by the day. So how to still make people use it and that too interestingly? Google has the answer. And it’s Google Glass. Like always, the Korean Plastic Giant was snappy quick in copying the idea and naming it, “Galaxy Gear” or whatever the hell it is called at a price I laughed really hard.
Google developed an excellent product and then had an excellent strategy to make people use it. A device that isn’t handheld, but still has a UI. And what’s the best way to interact with a device like that? Yep, you got it. Your voice. Tada! Equation solved!
The question then, is Microsoft having something up its sleeve we don’t know. And the answer, we don’t know. How groundbreaking will it be? We don’t know. What part of our body will it be strapped to? We don’t know that either. Is the future going to be a direct rip-off of Star Trek? We don’t…Oh yes we do! Of course it will be!

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