Archive for May 19, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Google Assistant

John Gruber:

Google is clearly the best at this voice-driven assistant stuff. Pichai claimed that in their own competitive analysis, Google Assistant is “an order of magnitude” ahead of competing assistants (read: Siri and Alexa). That sounds about right. This might be like Steve Jobs’s 2007 claim that the iPhone was “5 years” ahead of anyone else.

Manton Reece:

Only Google has the expertise in web services and the massive amount of data to keep going beyond basic questions. I expect both Siri and Alexa will hit brick walls that Google will get past, especially in conversational queries that let the user drill down below the most popular, superficial facts.

Caitlin McGarry:

It’s a problem that could be solved with a Siri API for app developers, but according to a recent Reuters report, Apple’s Siri shortcomings can be attributed to the company’s stance on privacy.

The company has a trio of so-called “privacy czars” who vet every decision, even inspecting lines of code that might violate laws or company standards. When Apple bought Siri five years ago, it was decided that data on what you ask Siri would be stored separately from personal data, so Siri lacks a lot of the knowledge about you that it would need to be a truly useful assistant.

Ben Thompson:

The net result is that Google has no choice but to put its founding proposition to the ultimate test: is it enough to be the best? Can the best artificial intelligence overcome the friction that will be involved in using Google assistant on an iPhone? Can the best artificial intelligence actually shift human networks? Can the best artificial intelligence win the home in the face of a big head start?

[…]

Google’s competitors, by virtue of owning the customer, need only be good enough, and they will get better. Google has a far higher bar to clear — it is asking users and in some cases their networks to not only change their behavior but willingly introduce more friction into their lives — and its technology will have to be special indeed to replicate the company’s original success as a business.

Update (2016-05-22): Marco Arment (Slashdot):

Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for.

If they’re right — and that’s a big “if” — I’m worried for Apple.

James Atkinson:

Every year i/o announces new tech. Every year people state Apple is doomed. Google can’t create things people actually want.

Update (2016-05-23): Dave Winer:

Apple could be replaced, for me, by a phone that was somewhat elegant, hardware-wise, and had software that was as easy and reliable as it should be, nine years after the iPhone was first introduced. You expect a certain amount of bugginess at the outset, but over time the glitches should be out and the product should become part of the background, the focus being on what you use the product for. The iPhone resists that. Every time they come out with a new version of iTunes or iOS, it all breaks, and I have to find a new set of workarounds.

Daniel Eran Dilger:

Rather than focusing on the incremental innovation needed to win back the attention of enterprise users and premium consumers, Google’s vision for Android this year has again leapt in new directions which appear even less attainable. Android’s scattered, imitative strategies du jour are resulting in a platform that looks a lot like Apple’s—albeit the very unsuccessful Apple of the mid 90s.

New Touch ID Rules

Glenn Fleishman:

A previously undocumented requirement asks for a passcode in a very particular set of circumstances: When the iPhone or iPad hasn’t been unlocked with its passcode in the previous six days, and Touch ID hasn’t been used to unlock it within the last eight hours. It’s a rolling timeout, so each time Touch ID unlocks a device, a new eight-hour timer starts to tick down until the passcode is required. If you wondered why you were being seemingly randomly prompted for your passcode (or more complicated password), this is likely the reason.

This has been bothering me for months. I thought it was a bug.

How Typography Can Save Your Life

Lena Groeger:

In the case of the weather service’s all-caps type, it’s the font version of the boy who cried wolf. Using ALL CAPS for everything — from severe hurricanes to a slight chance of showers — means that EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME AND EVERYTHING LOOKS IMPORTANT. Once people realize that most of the time it’s not, they may become desensitized to warnings. When nothing stands out, people are likely to miss real emergencies.

Now that the weather service can use ALL CAPS sparingly — as a tool to highlight real danger — the public is more likely to pay attention.

Previously: Highway Gothic to Clearview—and Back.