Skip to main content

QWERTY is Mainstream?

Touch screens and QWERTY keyboards on mobile devices are finally mainstream just about the time when they really should be obsolete. That’s too bad, really. Voice control should be mainstream, not qwerty keypads. I should be be able to have basic mobile phone control and mobile communications without reaching for my phone and poking around on it.

It’s 2009. For mobile devices, touches, swipes, swirls, stabs and keypads are archaic. Phones should be heard, not seen.

How close are we?

Microsoft Voice Command is a partial solution. It allows basic phone control with speaker independent voice. It works with Bluetooth so I can tap the headset and say things like ‘call Jake Botts at home’ or ‘dial 612 555 1212’ and it generally figures out what I want. It also allows voice access to the calendar (‘What’s my schedule’), and can navigate menus and contacts (‘show Jake Botts’ or ‘start solitaire’ or ‘start google maps’). Additionally, it reads incoming SMS’s & messages and announces incoming phone calls by name or number. It’s not comprehensive though. Once the command executes, Voice Command drops out of the picture. So I’m still stuck with viewing and touching the phone.

Motorola (and probably others) have similar features. Motorola’s speaker independent voice dialing was great at recognizing my voice with a bluetooth headset at 80mph in a convertible. But then it would sometimes get confused in a quiet room. Go figure.

Microsoft Live Search does fairly decent voice recognition on a limited set of tasks. It suffers from a few flaws. It doesn’t use bluetooth and it doesn’t speak back to me. It also fails the ‘context’ test. I tell it ‘traffic’ and instead of showing me a traffic map, it searches for driving schools. And in most cases, it’s still touch dependent.

I know about Jott and Nuance, but haven’t tried either one, and my carrier appears to offer an add-on service that has some interesting features. Vlingo has something that looks close, but it is still touch dependent. My vision is to be able to do what Vlingo can do without taking my phone from my pocket. Adando tries to solve the problem  using your home computer as the smart part of the equation. Your phone bridges your voice back to your home PC. You PC does all the work. Clever, I guess.

I think Apple send us down the wrong path by perfecting the touch-swipe-stab-pinch-flick interface. I can’t do any of those while driving in a convertible at 80 mph. ( Well…I can, but I really shouldn’t… )

Its about time we re-think phone interfaces, isn’t it?

Comments

  1. Phones have always had terrible UIs, and even though the iPhone worked on that some they took a step backwards by not having any sort of voice command system. So yeah, I'm with you. I'd love to be able to talk to my phone, and have it talk right back to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, it's not stupid that phones have QWERTY keyboards. Noone wants to stand in a bus and have to talk to their cell phone. Jott was annoying to use because I was talking to noone on the other end and it was completely obvious. Typing is reasonable and quiet so it can be used when other people are around. Privacy.

    I agree that having a voice control interface would be useful for the car (see Microsoft Sync for cars) but it's only really useful if you're in your own personal space. Using it when other people are around would make you a jackass.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Mike - Why is telling your phone to 'call mom' and then talking to her any more awkward than pecking out her phone number and talking to her? In either case, there will be times and places where you will not want to have an open voice conversation for whatever reason.

    But I'll maintain that a voice interface would be usable in many cases, such as in any case where you would normally talk out loud on the phone anyway (office, cube, car, home) and for me, those locations represent the majority of my day. In many cases I tend to not text communicate simply because of the awkwardness of touch typing while walking down the sidewalk or crossing the road.

    We need both interfaces.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry but I think voice control will end just like videocalls and (back in the 90's) virtual reality. Something that most people DO NOT like or find really useful. I mean, basic voice control in phones it's been there for years (I'm pretty sure I owned a phone before 2000 which already had voice control).

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Cargo Cult System Administration

“imitate the superficial exterior of a process or system without having any understanding of the underlying substance” --Wikipedia During and after WWII, some native south pacific islanders erroneously associated the presence of war related technology with the delivery of highly desirable cargo. When the war ended and the cargo stopped showing up, they built crude facsimiles of runways, control towers, and airplanes in the belief that the presence of war technology caused the delivery of desirable cargo. From our point of view, it looks pretty amusing to see people build fake airplanes, runways and control towers  and wait for cargo to fall from the sky.The question is, how amusing are we?We have cargo cult science[1], cargo cult management[2], cargo cult programming[3], how about cargo cult system management?Here’s some common system administration failures that might be ‘cargo cult’:Failing to understand the difference between necessary and sufficient. A daily backup is necessary, b…

Ad-Hoc Verses Structured System Management

Structured system management is a concept that covers the fundamentals of building, securing, deploying, monitoring, logging, alerting, and documenting networks, servers and applications. Structured system management implies that you have those fundamentals in place, you execute them consistently, and you know all cases where you are inconsistent. The converse of structured system management is what I call ad hoc system management, where every system has it own plan, undocumented and inconsistent, and you don't know how inconsistent they are, because you've never looked.

In previous posts (here and here) I implied that structured system management was an integral part of improving system availability. Having inherited several platforms that had, at best, ad hoc system management, and having moved the platforms to something resembling structured system management, I've concluded that implementing basic structure around system management will be the best and fastest path to …

The Cloud – Provider Failure Modes

In The Cloud - Outsourcing Moved up the Stack[1] I compared the outsourcing that we do routinely (wide area networks) with the outsourcing of the higher layers of the application stack (processor, memory, storage). Conceptually they are similar:
In both cases you’ve entrusted your bits to someone else, you’ve shared physical and logical resources with others, you’ve disassociated physical devices (circuits or servers) from logical devices (virtual circuits, virtual severs), and in exchange for what is hopefully better, faster, cheaper service, you give up visibility, manageability and control to a provider. There are differences though. In the case of networking, your cloud provider is only entrusted with your bits for the time it takes for those bits to cross the providers network, and the loss of a few bits is not catastrophic. For providers of higher layer services, the bits are entrusted to the provider for the life of the bits, and the loss of a few bits is a major problem. The…