The Weekly Wrap: June 12, 2022
We have three Amazon Alexa devices in our home. I have a love/hate relationship with them.
I love them because they make great digital picture frames. I created a shared family album and upload pictures do that album regularly. We use this album as our background option and the images cycle through all day. We share this album with our extended family so it means the grandparents get to see new pictures of the kiddo on their Alexa devices as well.
I also love our Alexas because they play music with decent sound quality. I can just randomly ask for things like "90s music" or "acoustic chill" or "morning vibes." Sometimes the random stations are not quite what I had in mind, but I enjoy being introduced to new things.
My favorite part of the Alexa is that I can add things to a shopping list. The minute I run low on something I say, "Alexa, put shampoo on my shopping list." I can then refer to this list on my phone which makes shopping so much easier. I can also set reminders and alarms which has been most helpful when the Husband needs to prep something for dinner while I'm in the office.
But there are certain things I loathe about our A-words. And, yes, we call them our A-words both to not set them off and because it's more polite than saying, "A**hole! Just get my request right!"
I am convinced that assistive devices like this have not taken off because Amazon (and other companies) are so damn focused on marketing more stuff to you that they lose most of their functionality.
Those photo backgrounds I mentioned are constantly interspersed by ads I don't want. I BOUGHT THIS MACHINE, LET ME TURN THEM OFF! Plus, when you ask for things, the A-word just keeps talking trying to get you to try something new, upgrade to paid, or share something it thinks is useful based on your request. I don't want that. Cut it out. A task that should take the A-word 2 seconds ends up taking thirty because it just won't shut up. We are constantly saying, "A-word, STOP!" just to get it to be silent.
Then there are the inevitable tech glitches. I have never once gotten through a clean game of Jeopardy. The game is always dropping or restarting or skipping ahead. It's so much less enjoyable because I have to keep asking it to restart or repeat.
This is all on top of the wildly inaccurate answers to some requests that makes me think we have a second toddler who doesn't listen in our home.
Also, the inherent sexism in having a female voice be the default assistant vocal choice grates on me. Give me something like a "Giovanni" or, I dunno, maybe something entirely asexual like "Computer." I could at least feel like I'm piloting a spaceship that way.
Finally, they're totally listening all the time. I don't believe Amazon when they say they aren't.
What do you think of voice assistants?
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