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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Google Assistant for iOS is a clunky mess

Karissa Bell for Mashable:

For starters, Assistant’s iOS app is a confusing, disjointed, mess. You’d think the Assistant would be able to easily link up with all your other Google services, but that wasn’t the case in my initial testing.

It isn’t often that I agree with an article on Mashable. However, in this case I very much agree.

Using Assistant for iOS for a bit yesterday I found myself scratching my head thinking “but, I thought I could do this, or that, or that?”. In reality, the Assistant on iOS as it stands is Google’s search with voice input on top of it. Just like Siri. Which is equally frustrating to use.

One quick note here: Google does not have the access to iOS APIs that Apple does. For this reason Assistant is neutered from the jump. However, Google does a bad job explaining that and so user expectation is pretty high when I first installed the app. Assistant on iOS will likely never be as good as the Android or Home Assistant and that should be clear.

One other quick note: I think the entire tech industry began using the term “AI” a decade too soon. “Bot” is ok. A bot can respond to a set of commands and only those commands. That feels much more accurate when describing Google’s Assistant. But calling features like Cortana, Siri, Assistant, Bixby (or whatever Samsung’s assistant is) is a huge, huge stretch of the term AI in their current states. And likely will be for a number of years to come.

Andrew Ng on the impact of AI

Andrew Ng resigns from Baidu to focus on helping AI impact more companies and industries. In his resignation post he mentions the impact AI is having, and will continue to have, on every part of life:

Just as electricity transformed many industries roughly 100 years ago, AI will also now change nearly every major industry — healthcare, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing — enriching the lives of countless people.

And:

The industrial revolution freed humanity from much repetitive physical drudgery; I now want AI to free humanity from repetitive mental drudgery, such as driving in traffic. This work cannot be done by any single company — it will be done by the global AI community of researchers and engineers.

This rings very similar to Kevin Kelly’s TED talk about the second industrial revolution being powered by AI which I linked to in December.

There are so many exciting things happening in science and technology; not the least of which is how quickly AI is improving at all levels. I think out of all the current mainstream implementations I’m most impatient for completely autonomous vehicles.