Do You Like Talking Computers?

Do you like talking to your computer? Do you like your computer answering back?

I used Siri today for some purpose. It occurred to me that I never use the voice interface. Am I am old fuddy-duddy?

(Now let me see if I can make a poll work.)

I talk to Siri or the car when I’m driving. I don’t usually use it for composing texts, though. I use the touchscreen for that. And I have an Alexa, so of course I use that via voice. It’s quite nice.

ETA: I don’t mean for composing texts in the car. That I will use Apple Car Play for on the newer car that has that functionality. I mean that I know some people who use voice to dictate their text messages in non-driving circumstances, but I don’t like doing that. Or I should say I haven’t gotten used to doing that yet.

I use both Siri and Alexa a fair bit, especially in the kitchen when my hands are often dirty. It’s really handy to be able to say “Siri set a timer for 10 minutes” or “Alexa, play NPR” in those instances. Alexa is also really good at grocery lists - use up the last bit of something? “Alexa, put <item> on the shopping list” is a lot quicker than searching for a pen & a grocery list. Plus that list is always on my phone, so when I find myself at the store I know I always have the list of stuff we need.

I think it’s faster than looking things up manually at times; the other day, we were thinking about watching a movie, and one of the ones we were wanting to see is the movie “It.” It was a little late for us to start a movie, and for some reason I was thinking that was a really long movie. I asked Alexa “Alexa, how long is the movie ‘It’”, thinking it was a longshot, but she came right back and said “The movie is is 132 minutes long” (or whatever it was, I don’t recall the exact length.) That one surprised me, and there’s no question that grabbing a device, looking up the movie, and scrolling through a website to find the length would have taken several minutes whereas Alexa answered immediately.

Also: I guess I used voice command and Google differently. As I was typing above, I thought to myself “What if I googled the same question (“How long is the movie It”)” I did it and it came right back with the info I was looking for. Problem is, I just don’t think that way - I would have probably gone to IMDB and looked up the movie, not just asked Google the question I wanted answered. Still, the voice command was faster.

Dammit, I should have answered “both”. I ask Alexa about the weather, get it to set the occasional timer and on occasion have it play a song.

I’ll use a voice interface when they improve to the point that I don’t have to repeat myself multiple times to be understood. I will not, however, give it command authority to lock me out of my garage.


I like it. I use ok google, google home and alexa and enjoy them all.

I voted for option 4. I can type accurately, but the computer might not understand me accurately. Furthermore there’s the slim possibility that the computer records sound all the time, since it has to listen for when I’m speaking even when I haven’t said anything (relevant). (Technology reporters indicate that this is sometimes true, but there’s so much data that it could not be sifted through to target anyone in particular.)

I use Siri on my phone for appointments, mostly because I enabled the male British voice pack and he says, “Shedulede”.

I use Alexa for smart home stuff and finding my phone. And for settling trivia question bets.

I don’t want my computer to make any sound at all unless I’ve clicked to play something. No beeps, bells or chat.

I’ve used some Alexa stuff and it’s:

  1. Amazing.
  2. Horrible.

Amazing that it sort of works at all. Horrible in that 98% of the time it doesn’t come anywhere close to responding suitably. I can’t get it to even turn on/off light switches that work with the manufacturers app, thru the Alexa app directly, but not by saying anything. Which is the whole freakin’ point!

So, not ready for prime time in my household.

I don’t use any of the voice inputs, neither do I want my devices to start talking to me. I prefer to maintain the illusion that I’m the one in control, and my phone and computer aren’t tracking everything I say or do.

Same here but with all my devices being somewhat aged I may have slightly more than an illusion. Slightly.

Really?? I’m freaking amazed at it. I have a nasally voice that would screw up any computer-activated phone tree a few years ago, and yet Alexa understands me 95% of the time. Seriously, I am stunned at how far technology has come over the last decade to be actually able to decipher my voice.

I don’t like talking to disembodied entities. At all, ever. That also includes other humans who happen to be on the other end of a telephone line. It’s not a rejection of modern technology (phones predate me by quite a bit after all) it’s just the way I’m wired. Any use of voice-activated technology by me is in “Devil ice-skating to work” territory

I touch type 50 wpm. A keyboard is the most efficient imput device out there.

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I mean, having C-3PO hanging around the house, ready to do little errands, could be cool. But when you’re talking to “Siri”, you’re really talking to Apple Inc. When you’re talking to “Alexa”, you’re really talking to Amazon. Which means that Apple or Amazon are potentially listening to everything you say–you know, just to helpful and all.

I like having my GPS talk to me and I was just using google maps on my phone to get directions to various meetings all weekend.

I don’t like my devices listening to me though and i haven’t found voice recognition to work well for me. The only person I’ve known to love the voice recognition used it really inappropriately when he would be sitting in meetings with people and write a text or an email in front of the group by dictating it. It was really annoying and I had to listen to him complain about the errors.


That’s actually a good point–I had checked the last option (“No, I prefer the keyboard and touchscreen”) but actually, I do set “Garmina” to talk to me (when I’m actually getting directions to somewhere, as opposed to just displaying where I am at the moment as I drive around).

Thing is, I’m (semi-)old-school and still use a free-standing GPS device (as opposed to an app on my phone). As I understand it, although “Garmina” receives Signals From Outer Space (and does also communicate with Garmin Central whenever I get around to downloading map updates), in normal usage I don’t think she actually transmits anything anywhere. Thus, her “brain” is in fact inside the little gadget that’s suction-cupped to my windshield: As I understand it, that little gadget uses the signals from the GPS satellites to calculate my car’s position on the surface of the planet Earth, correlates that with hyper-detailed maps stored inside the device, and uses algorithms of some sort (also locally stored) to map out a route on the North American network of streets and roads and highways from where I am to where I want to be.

I use “OK Google” in the car (Android phone) if I want to send a text or get directions. There’s not much talking back in the other direction for those.

I have two Amazon Echo Dots. I like to be able to ask Alexa questions about news, weather, sports, traffic, trivia without having to bring up a browser and type stuff in. It’s surprisingly fast, though often can’t get an answer. I also have it connected to the lights and ceiling fan in my bedroom so I can turn out the lights from bed, turn on the fan from the bathroom, and play podcasts if I’m ironing, all without touching anything. I still occasionally tell Alexa to open the pod bay doors.

I’ve tried Cortana on Windows but it’s not very good. Half the time it just triggers a Bing search if I ask it to perform a function on my computer. I otherwise don’t use Bing.