Voice assistants’ worst enemy? Our embarrassment

Today Cortana arrives on Xbox One (for preview members) and I suspect it’s use will be pretty common among their users for two reasons:

  1. Many of them were already using Kinects to shout some voice commands, and now that interaction will grow between them, but even more importantly, 
  2. They will be able to use the feature at home and in private. 

People feel uncomfortable when they try to use a voice assistant in public. That’s what a recent study from Creative Strategies tells us: that feature is becoming more and more widespread on smartphones, smartwatches and other wearables, but lots of people feel weird to use Siri, Cortana or Google Now in public: 

20% of consumers who said they never used a voice assistant stated they had not done so because they feel uncomfortable talking to their technology, especially in public. With public usage as low as 3% for iPhone users, it seems users are still uncomfortable talking to their devices

There’s clearly a cultural barrier here, but cultural barriers happen to dissapear like almost anything else. 

Time.

The conquest of Alexa

In the coming weeks, Amazon expects to release a smaller, portable version of its voice-activated tabletop Echo speaker, building off the device’s surprise success.

In 2014 Amazon surprised us with its Fire TV device: you could push a button at the top of the remote to active a universal voice-search function.

In late 2014 there was an even bigger surprise. Amazon wanted to conquer our living room from a different perspective. Not with a smartphone, or a console, or a set-top-box. It wanted to conquer us with a speaker. But a neat one. Amazon Echo was born, and Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, was a cornerstone of that and other products from that point.

echo

The idea was brilliant then, and is still brilliant today. You could argue that Amazon’s approach to the app store is far from ideal, but they have really good ideas on other segments, though not everything is a success.

So now the rumors are coming: Amazon is preparing a newer, smaller, cheaper version of its Amazon Echo. Its design resembles a beer can, it appears, but there’s a better idea, as Alex Barredo pointed out shortly after the news appeared:

I don’t know if they’d sell millions, but that, for sure, would be pretty interesting too.

Source: Amazon to Release Portable Version of Echo Speaker in Coming Weeks

Is the Apple TV affordable? Maybe, but the HDMI cable isn’t

The Apple TV has been late to the party and not particularly bold or agressive in the new concept. It brings a new Wiimote remote with Alexa Siri support and a dedicated OS whis is no more than an iOS fork (Apple is obsessed with platforms differentiation).

The hardware -with an Apple A8 inside- is much more powerful and ready to let users enjoy the apps and games suited for this device. Which will have to be specifically developed for the new Apple TV, of course.

It’s available now and it will ship on October 30th, but beware: the HDMI cable is not included. If you want the official one (1.8m), that will be $19. Or you can buy the $5.49 cable (2m) from Amazon. Or the AIM High Performance FLAT Cable FLE2-02 (2m) for $545. Anyone will give you the same exact quality and the same exact features.

You decide.

Source: The new Apple TV is now available to order from the Apple Online Store, first units ship October 30th

Why 2GB, Apple?

A popular request for Apple users has come to life. According to Xcode, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have 2GB of RAM, while the iPad Pro has 4 GB.

I wonder what’s the reason behind the growth in RAM memory. Cost is probably not an issue (maybe the 1GB chips were obsolete?), but iOS didn’t seem to worry about managing just 1GB of RAM. In fact, most Android users wouldn’t understand (and would envy) how a phone with this small memory could offer such experiencies.

I’m pretty sure the new voice activation and the multitasking capabilities are partly responsible (3D Touch is guilty too), but I guess they just want to give headroom for future enhancements in the OS. Anyway, a really welcome upgrade for spec-hungry people.

Now you’ll be able to open a lot more of tabs in Safari withouth them reloading over and over again. Wonderful.

Source: Xcode confirms 2 GB RAM for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, 4 GB RAM for iPad Pro | 9to5Mac