Since the advent of SmartHome technology and smart speakers like the Echo, companies have gone out of their way to add voice control to just about anything and everything, and this needs to stop.

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Don’t get me wrong, voice control is great for a lot of things like adjusting the thermostat, playing music, or just wondering what the weather will be like today without fishing on your phone. The problem is that using voice commands is no easier or faster than using old-fashioned tools. Let’s look at a few examples.

Plex, Alexa and You

I recently installed Plex Media Server and was blown away by how awesome it is. Then I found out that you can control playback with Alexa and my mind exploded. However, this excitement did not last long.

Turns out controlling Plex with your voice isn’t really all that useful, and frankly, it’s easier to just use that damn remote. For example, here is a recent conversation I had with Alexa:

  Я: «Алекса, скажи Плексу, чтобы он продолжал смотреть« Плохо »».

 Алекса: «Похоже, вы были в середине 4-го сезона.
 Эпизод 1: Box Cutter.  Хотите продолжить смотреть? "

 Я: «Да, очевидно!»

 Алекса: "ОК!" 

To be honest, I could have watched it before I even finished my original voice command if I had just used the remote. You can also adjust the volume and play or pause video content, but again, it’s easier to use the remote for this sort of thing.

I can see that voice control with Plex can be helpful if you have a specific movie or series in mind but are too lazy to scroll through the menu to find it. However, this is usually not the case for me, as I just scroll through everything until I find something attractive to look at.

Alexa, turn on the faucet

Perhaps one of the most interesting products that comes with Alexa capabilities is this kitchen faucet from Delta. So not only can you turn on the water by touching the faucet (or use an old-fashioned handle like a shoe), but now you can tell Alexa to turn it on.

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I guess this is a great feature if your hands are dirty and don’t want to touch the faucet to turn it on, but how often is this really a problem? The back of your hands still works great for turning water faucets on, especially with those light levers that most kitchen faucets have these days.

However, I can’t be too critical on this point, as you can also tell Alexei to give her a certain amount of water from the faucet, which is pretty cool I guess if you’re filling the pot and don’t want to wait for it.

However, I feel like a product like this solves an extremely world first problem that never happened, especially if you can already just touch a faucet to turn it on and off. And priced at $550, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

By comparison, Delta also has a voice-activated shower system. Being able to convince your shower to reach the right temperature before you even get out of bed is a much more convincing use of this feature.

Just use a button or a light switch

I have most of my smart home devices connected to Alexa. Some devices are really convenient to control with your voice, but in most cases it is easier and faster to use a switch or some kind of button.

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For example, my heater is connected to a smart jack, which then connects to Alexa. I just say «Alexa, turn the heater on/off» whenever I need to. But to be honest, it would be a lot easier and faster if I used one of these — all I have to do is press a button to turn the heater on and off.

The same goes for light. When I walk into a room, I’m not going to yell «Alexa, turn on the lights» and then wait a second or two for the room to light up. Instead, I hit the light switch like a normal person.

In the end, voice control is just an alternative

Don’t get me wrong, voice control is cool and all, and I still use it for a lot of things (it’s also a cool party trick when we have guests). However, it’s not that great because it’s the main way to control things in my house.

If your hands are full, or you’re sitting on the couch and don’t want to get up to adjust the lights, then yes, voice control is great for that. Or maybe that’s the whole point of adding voice control to everything? It shouldn’t necessarily be considered the #1 way to manage SmartHome devices, but at least it’s there if you want it at times when it might be convenient.

With that said, I guess there’s no harm in companies adding voice control to devices in the overall scheme of things, but it’s all about integrating it well and making it convenient and easy to use (not to mention make it work well in the first case). place). Unfortunately, this is rare in many products.

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