Home Technology Are Smart Assistants (Siri, Alexa, OK Google) a regional thing?

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by Spanky Deluxe, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    I've long been baffled by the amount of people talking about smart assistants online and their uses; people genuinely talking about how they like Amazon stuff better because Alexa is better than Siri, talking about buying one product over the other based largely on the smart assistant or how they'd like to add a particular smart assistant to a room. Meanwhile there I am, and I just don't get the appeal but moreover I don't actually know anyone that likes them apart from one friend who does actually use Siri. He's an American.

    It made me wonder if the use of smart assistants is a cultural thing. Forgive me for going discussing stereotypes but Americans are known here (the UK) as being loud and demanding and so maybe Americans don't give it a second thought when talking to a smart assistant in front of people or even on their own. For me (and I've spoken to my friends about this who agree and feel the same way), it's awkward and embarrasing to talk to a smart assistant. I would *never* say "Hey Siri" when I thought there was even a remote chance that someone else could hear and even when I'm on my own, it feels awkward to talk to my phone or computer or whatever when I could just unlock it and do it myself.

    For what it's worth, I have several devices that *could* be controlled with voice - a plethora of Apple products, smart thermostats in most rooms, smart kettle and coffee machine, smart home enternainment system, smart washer and dryer etc. I never do though, I always unlock my phone and use the respective app instead in silence.

    Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree though and hardly anyone actually cares about smart assistants and it's just something that only tech writers and manufacturers care about with the rest of the world thinking it's a waste of time.

    I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this.
  2. zea macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2014
    I'm in the US, and I never even thought about using Siri in public (this was pre-Alexa). But then I saw other people doing it, and though it was still a bit weird to me at first, I got used to it. Especially once Google's assistant came out and I heard people all over saying "OK Google", which is way more awkward and silly sounding than "Hey Siri", I think I got comfortable with it. We have an Echo at home and the girlfriend and I use it to turn on lights/set timers without even thinking about it. There's definitely a process of acceptance though.

    Maybe it's not so much a regional cultural thing but a community cultural thing? I can't say for sure, but I bet if you saw more people using it around you, you'd use it more. There could be other parts of the US where nobody uses it, and if I lived there, maybe I wouldn't use it in public as well. I work in IT so it's natural for me to doing stuff like that. The ONLY reason I use Siri with voice is because it's faster than opening the Hue app on my phone to find the respective light to turn on or off.

    If this thread is HomePod related: I for one am happy to replace the Alexa with the HomePod though because Alexa doesn't always get the command right, so, hopefully, it'll make for less awkward situations or repeated commands.
  3. boodle macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2004
    There are certainly cultural elements to the equation but I expect they appear in most societies. Talking to machines is a relatively new concept and many people are not comfortable with it. Thankfully, I rarely see/hear people using voice control in public in the USA.

    I'm hoping gestural control will continue to improve, particularly as wearables become more popular.
  4. IGI2 macrumors 6502


    May 6, 2015
    If it is strange for you, then think about countries which don't have Siri in their language.

    Imagine if you would have to speak to your phone in French + in public.

    That's how it is with Siri or Alexa in Poland.

    Not only do you need to speak to a computer, but also in a different language with your not native-like accent. This is the next level of awkwardness.
  5. madeirabhoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2012

    as a brit (abroad) I sort of agree. however I love my google home, its because at home theres only me and the wife. so I will happily 'hey google play bbc radio 2' cos its a lot easier than finding my phone, opening an app...

    however I will never use siri even on my watch if anyone is present at work or out.
  6. Shanghaichica macrumors G3


    Apr 8, 2013
    I don’t use any of them in public but at home I use siri, Alexa and the google assistant. I would feel stupid talking to them outside but at home they have their uses. A lot of it is about training. If you train yourself to ask the assistant questions then it will become second nature to you and more straight forward than opening the phone and using an App.
  7. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I use Siri all the time in public. Not to worried about how people think around me. I am running my company and setting timers and appointments not to mention temp and volume conversions are requested multiple times a day.

    Some worry too much about what other think. In the end the one with the most toys, wins!
  8. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I understand the loud and demanding (otherwise obnoxious fat american stereotype) but to me its not about that sort of thing. It's all about the convenience that once you get used to doing things more of a "manual" way seems slow and counterintuitive.

    I'll use Siri exclusively to make phone calls anymore just because its faster. Raising the phone to my head and saying "Hey Siri call xxxx" is just faster and easier then unlocking the phone, going to contacts or phone, finding the contact (even in favorites), selecting their number and then finally calling. While that would make someone in a third world country roll their eyes its a technology that is readily available to me so why not use it? Same with a location based reminder, so much easier to have Siri handle it (Hey Siri remind me to xxxx when I get home/work/friends house/etc etc). Setting alarms. Just things of that nature.

    There is definitely a time and place for sure. You wont catch me using Siri in public but thats mostly because I've gotten good at making it look like I wasn't using it to begin with. And I've also gotten rusty at not using it, like making phone calls lol.

    And while driving its just MUCH safer. Sending text, playing music, making calls, etc etc all things that would have had me take my eyes off the road.

    In private I'll use Siri A LOT. Siri is great for asking math equations, the definition and spelling of words, random facts that I'm just slightly curious about (today I asked the speed of sound in MPH because I was trying to calculate distance of lightning lol), etc etc.

    Its not perfect and if it was a real personal assistant I would have fired her ass a long time ago but for the simple stuff Siri does ok. Same applies to other smart assistants, Siri just works the best for me currently.

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