Thursday, October 20, 2011

Your phone is no assistant

You and your smartphone may be inseparable, but that doesn't mean you ought to be best friends.

That's the essential message from Andy Rubin, Google's Android chief, who spoke at the AsiaD conference this week. Not so coincidentally, he said this just days after the launch of the iPhone 4S, a chief feature of which is Siri, a voice-activated feature that Apple is billing as a "personal assistant."

"I don't believe that your phone should be an assistant," Rubin said in an interview, as reported by AllThingsD.

Rather, he said, a telephonic gadget is a tool: "You shouldn't be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone."

Apple's Siri has been the object of great fascination for many in the short time since it burst onto the scene. People have used it to sing duets, to muse on the meaning of life, and to break into a locked iPhone 4S. They've speculated about its (her) personality and whether it will ruin our civil society.