* Turning on/off lights
* Changing the thermostat set temp
* Asking about the weather forecast
* Add items to a shopping list
* Playing music
If you can't imagine a voice interface being appreciably better than a phone interface for these things, I recommend withholding judgment until you've tried it.
Also, to be very clear (since some people have a knack for arguing points I never made), I'm explicitly not saying that the current hot-mic implementation is technically necessary or ideal, nor that these conveniences justify the privacy tradeoff.
Obviously not every action is easier or more optimal by voice, but having the option is great.
Many people today grew up with cellphones in their cribs. They have no idea what information starvation is like. The experience of receiving information you've been waiting for for weeks or months is exhilarating.
Anyway, when you take the library experience versus the experience of pulling up information from a cellphone the improvement is astronomical. From cellphone to voice assistant, the improvement seems very marginal.
Cell phones even represented a distinct advantage over desktops and laptops in that they were always there on your person. Cell phones opened up the possibility to look up information anywhere. With voice assistants it seems the only advantage you gain over cell phones in that you don't have to use your fingers. That doesn't seem very life changing by comparison, unless you don't have fingers, in which case I will admit your life would be vastly improved.
But the downside is that you're connecting a always-on microphone access to mega-corporations who are looking to monetize your existence. For those of us who grew up without the internet or cell phones the trade-off just makes zero sense. We're willing to use cell phones because they open up new worlds of information access. But voice assistants just seems to create more problems than they solve.
Yes, you're right, the voice interface is not the astronomical leap that the cellphone was. But why is that your cutoff line?
My voice assistants offer a lot of benefit to me. Especially with kids, I don't always have a free hand to pull out the cell phone. When my daughter was an infant, it was super convenient to ask it to play soft music as she was falling asleep without having to put her down. Now it's super nice to be able to set multiple timers as I cook with just my voice, instead of trying to fumble with multiple timers on my phone or stove.
I'm not paranoid to think that they are recording everything, because I understand that there would be no ROI for the company to do so with the storage and bandwidth that would be required. And therefore there really isn't much tradeoff at all. Google is already recording every search I do -- does it matter if I use my phone or my Google Home?
IE, using voice commands is a downgrade IMO. Voice commands are not directly discoverable, and there's a lot more magic boxes.
I have yet to find a use case for modern voice control that required more than a passing thought about how to word things. Even my technologically illiterate parents can use these devices with relative ease, especially compared to smart phone and desktop computer UIs. Have you actually tried out these devices or are you just assuming they're as bad as they were 20 years ago?
Compare this to the number of taps required to do so in the hue app
Also, an interaction I had last week:
add x to my shopping list.
ok, I will add x to my shopping list, anything else?
. . .
But I can't add a list, add pears, apples, and oatmeal to my shopping list.
So If I have raw chicken on my hands and want to add shit to my list, it takes so god damn long that I want to punch the fucking thing.
Its rather some deeper info that first few lines of wikipedia article covers, sometimes more. Is your use case valid? For sure for you. But it wouldn't be enough for me, not for the price, upfront and hidden, not for the creepiness it potentially brings. The real time and energy saved for me would be tiny - but that's me. I can still do a bit of 'work' myself.
This reminds me of my recent trip to Aconcagua, highest peak in South (both) America. One US lady had this electric air mattress inflater, and she ran off the charge. She was bragging how smart is she for having such appliances. Rest of the group just smiled and inflated our mattress ourselves, even in 6000m high camp. If you can't do 10 full lungs blows yourself and spend that 1 minute preparing mattress, you shouldn't be up there, by huge margin.