back to article Huawei could rescue Amazon's Alexa from the smart home

Huawei’s upcoming launch of a smartphone incorporating Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant will mark a new phase in one of the most important battles for the modern internet experience. Voice-activated assistants - which use powerful AI engines to deliver detailed, context-aware and personalized answers to users’ questions – are …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge

    Is it just because I'm over 40?

    I have voice control on all sorts of stuff, but stopped using it within a few days as there seemed to be no advantage to keyboard/mouse/buttons. People I speak to seem to have reached the same conclusion - novelty wears off very quickly.

    Is it just my age?

    1. dajames

      Re: Is it just because I'm over 40?

      No, I think it's because you're over 15.

      There are lots of use-cases for voice control, mostly where the user has both hands full attending to some other task (like driving); voice control isn't perfect, but in these places the compromise is acceptable. The one place where voice control is almost never needed is in the living room, where one usually has at least one hand free and is usually at liberty to free up a hand or two if necessary.

      Alexa looks very much like a solution in search of a problem ... but I have no objection to Amazon (or anyone else) doing the research needed to improve the technology. It'll be valuable somewhere.

  2. GingerOne

    Voice control in car, this may actually be useful!

    Being able to talk to the satnav would be good, asking for the nearest petrol station or a different route. Likewise, changing the radio or music selection and also, taking note and reminders as you see things or think of stuff on your journey.

    Certainly more uses than a listening device in your front room.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do that already using Cortana and the cars built in Bluetooth connectivity.

      Very useful.

  3. The Boojum

    Very mixed feelings on this, as a recent entrant to the Alexa world.

    On the one hand it is useful. Adding things to a shopping list by voice immediately something's used up is actually very useful, as is the ability to set timers and alarms by voice. OK, there are plenty of other ways of doing that but I do use it. I've also set it up to turn some of my lights on via Lightwave, which is really fun and more useful than it might first seem.

    But there are two problems with Alexa. Firstly, it's extremely basic in its functionality. You can add things to a list and review things on a list but not change or process them. Other things like news and jokes are just fluff - unimportant. The second thing is probably worse. Its voice recognition is terrible. For commands it knows it's pretty accurate - near 100%. For simple shopping list items it's pretty good - probably around 80% accuracy. But for to-do list items it is appalling. If it gets one entry in ten right I reckon I'm doing well. So in summary Alexa could be good in a few years' time if they make a lot of progress on the core.

    As to Alexa in the car, that is quite possible now. The Dot is physically nobtrusive. It's powered by a USB cable, connection available in most modern cars. For a network, just activate the wireless hotspot on your phone. Job done.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    Localtion Awareness isn't a big deal

    From what little I know of adding skills to Alexa getting it to interrogate a component to find out where it is and then incorporate that information into an application is a 'no brainer'. Its not been a feature of the static Alexa because, well, she knows where you live.

    Alexa is an applications platform disguised as a voice assistant. While its true that a large part of the platform's raison d'etre is to drive business to Amazon the company has been very smart about how it goes about pushing its wares -- you tend to use Amazon's products and services because they're the logical (best?) choice, not because you are forced to.

  5. AndrewDu

    So, a gadget that listens to everything that's said in your car, and sends it all back to Big Brother at its own discretion.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Just the thing for the fathers of teenage daughters, I suppose, but really. Blimey. And people will PAY for this?

  6. Moog42

    I have voice control in my Renault Zoe EV - it is the most laughable piece of junk, my kids get me to activate it for a giggle now and then, as it gets about 1% of things right and likes to call random people of my phone :) Alexa it is not. I do own a Echo Dot, principally for the purpose of turning all the upstairs lights off at home that my teenagers seem to like to leave on after I have gone to bed. That was worth £50, as the 6ft garden cane just wouldn't quite reach...

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