Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

When Worse Is Better

Good post from Daniel Jalkut, on how Amazon’s relatively limited feature set for the Alexa family makes it less susceptible to disappointment than Siri. He compares it to the handwriting recognition software that was in the Newton and Palm Pilots in the ’90’s:

By dramatically diminishing the magic of its handwriting recognition technology, Palm dramatically increased its reliability. Users seemed to appreciate this compromise, as Newton sputtered, and Palm Pilots went on to define the whole genre of hand-held digital assistants.

It’s like the uncanny valley, but in terms of capability rather than human likeness. Unfortunately, once the threshold has been crossed, there’s no place to go but up. Apple isn’t going to strip functionality from Siri; they now need to make it vastly more capable and reliable at the same time. It’s a good thing third-party developers will soon be able to help them out with that, so I hear.