Since Apple launched Siri in iOS 5 back in October 2011, personal assistants have been a standard feature on tablets and smartphones. Google joined the race in July 2012 with the release of Google Now in the Android 4.1 update, while third party alternatives, including Evi, Speaktoit Assistant and Vlingo, quickly appeared for Android.
Microsoft had been notably absent from this scene, but that is set to change very soon after the company announced that it will be releasing Cortana (named after the AI character in their popular Halo videogame series) to developers in the UK within the next two weeks.
Whilst Microsoft’s absence from the market was pronounced, is it really an application craved by end users or is this merely a case of box ticking for mobile operating system comparison charts? Is wearable tech driving the change?
As a forward thinking digital marketing agency, one might expect the staff at Stickyeyes to be avid users of such software tools, but when asked, a mere 4% of staff claimed to use their personal assistant software on a regular basis. But what is causing this alarmingly low adoption rate? Is it because the software is impractical or lacking in functionality? Perhaps users are simply unclear on what the software is capable of and therefore don’t realise how the personal assistant in their pocket can help?
Here are my top ten reasons why you should reconnect with your personal assistant.
Personal assistants can be invaluable when in the car. If you get lost, are in a new part of town or on a road trip, you can simply tell your assistant to navigate you home or to a specific address. Your phone will now become a satnav guiding you step-by-step to your chosen destination – without you having to break those mobile phone laws.
Much like the abacus and calculator revolutionised mathematics, your personal assistant has the ability to simplify your life. Whilst it isn’t capable of the more scientific equations, it can quickly and easily tell you percentages, square routes or what PI is.
3. App launching
If your phone looks anything like mine you’ll have hundreds of apps nestled away in countless folders. Your personal assistant is capable of finding and opening any app in seconds, saving you task of having to remember whether you put Angry Birds in the Games folder or Entertainment folder.
When you want to maximise your productivity, your personal assistant is there to help, particularly useful for busy parents who need to send a text or compose an email whilst cooking for example. Use the voice recognition to write your message and even send it, all whilst you finish sautéing your veg.
5. Spell checker
As a sufferer of dyslexia I struggle with spelling, and whilst auto-correct and spell checkers have alleviated much of the stress for people such as myself, there are still occasions when these tools are unable to fathom the word I’m trying to write. In these instances I’ll turn to Siri.
6. Random facts
Not necessarily the most practical use of your personal assistant, but fun and informative nonetheless. Google has been used to resolve arguments for year and now you can use your personal assistant instead. “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?”, “How old is Tom Cruise?” or “What’s the capital of Peru?” are all easy tasks that deliver accurate data quickly. The programmers of these assistants have been given freedom to provide some comedic answers too. Consider asking yours, “Who let the dogs out?”, “Do you know Hal9000?” or “Who is your daddy and what does he do?”
Google Now is particularly good at providing information you regularly request upfront without having to go hunting for it. An example is the weather. It will give you a detailed prediction for the current day or a 5 day forecast, great if you’re planning an evening in your local’s beer garden or deciding on weekend activities.
8. Calendar entries
Your personal assistant is capable of organising your life, much like its real-life counterpart. Simply tell it to add an appointment to your calendar, including date and time. This is a great feature if you’re prone to forgetting to set up events once you get back to your desk, simply have your assistant do it as you walk back.
9. To do list
If you’re walking down the street and suddenly think of an important task, simply ask your assistant to add it to your to do list. It’ll be happy to oblige and can even add geotagged alerts or timed reminders so that you don’t forget about it.
10. Calling in the car
Many modern cars now come with a form of mobile connectivity, whether it be Bluetooth or wired, which enables drivers to legally interact with their phones whilst negotiating the streets. Your personal assistant is more than capable of calling a spouse or colleague whilst you focus on the road.
It’s undeniable that as wearable tech becomes more popular, personal assistance will become more prevalent, due to their ability to function without typed input. Get ahead of the curve and start using your assistant to help improve your productivity. Part of the experience is playing around and finding new features. Have we missed your most used functionality? Drop it into the comments box below.