Ask the readers - 08 December 2011
Author: Matt Anderson

I don’t know why, or even when I realized it, but I can’t stand voice controls.  In part because of its inherent limitations and also because it just doesn’t work very well for me.  Some people complain about voice controls not understanding colloquial accents and I, hailing from southeastern North Carolina, can totally understand how dialects can confuse the hell out of any OS but the thing is I have an extremely neutral tone.  I have no southern twang in my speech and no discernible regional accent to speak of.  I have been told that I mumble occasionally but I always feel like unless the microphone is situated directly against my vocal chords inside my throat that it’s about as useful as a sandbox in the Sahara.  Before you get into the whole “Windows Phone voice controls just suck,” argument let me cut you off and slap you with the fact that it isn’t just Windows Phone.  I’ve used voice controls on almost all platforms from Android and even old-school WinMo days, all the way through IOS and Siri.  Screw them all.  Local processing or server side doesn’t seem to help.  The only thing that gets me any closer to proper results is changing my voice to sound like Microsoft Sam, which doesn’t appear awkward or anything when I’m trying to illustrate voice commands to customers.  This isn’t my only gripe with voice commands though.  There is a small functional problem with the implementation of every voice control I’ve seen on a mobile device.

Why in the hell do you have to press a button to start voice commands?  This seems like a massive flaw.  When you market voice commands as the “Use the phone without having to press buttons” sort of thing it just doesn’t make any sense.  Then you have commercials of blind people using Siri to somehow manage a phone that has a grand total of two physical buttons?!? Yeah, no.  Recently there was an article that explained how Siri was Apple’s broken promise to their customers.  I don’t think it matters who it is that’s implementing these voice command solutions, as it never pans out as expected.

Does anyone else out there hate voice commands like I do?  I’m interested because maybe, to voice command, I do sound like I have “Diabeetus”.  But I’m wondering if anyone else does too.  Should there be a command word to make the phone start listening for voice commands like most devices (GPS, PC’s, etc.) have to avoid the use of buttons entirely?  Is Wilford Brimley still funny?  I think the resounding answer to all of these questions is yes.  









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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Sorry, my last response got sent purratmeely.I am writing because My husband linked his phone to my mighty grocery account approximately a month ago. We noticed today that a few items I added (starred) to the favorites list didn’t appear on his list. I suspect it’s because I have added them to the favorites list after we linked them. He is missing many items I have added to my favorites list. Is this the problem? How do we fix this?Thanks in advance,Jess