The User Interface of the Future

Voice promises to be an even bigger part of the smart home experience, according to a new report from ABI Research. It makes sense. Apple has been a leader in transforming user interfaces, initially with the Graphical User Interface, paired with a mouse (which the company copied from Xerox PARC.) Then there was Apple's attempt at handwriting recognition with the Apple Newton (which I had and loved.) Of course, the multitouch touchscreen was introduced with the iPhone. Then along came Siri.

Voice is probably the most advanced (and simplest) interface option. It's hard to get right, but between Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Amazon Alexa, and others, there are a lot of brilliant minds working on it. It is also the simplest for consumers. You can use it while you drive or with your eyes closed (or if you can't see at all.) Of course, there are millions who are nonverbal, so this has to be managed. According to the U.S. Census, about ten million adults have trouble seeing, hearing, speaking, or being understood, so this is important.

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Ask Siri

Still, the technology is promising. Being able to control your appliances, find items, order items (hence Amazon's interest), and more, without using your hands is the way of the future. There were expectations that the newest Apple TV would have always-on voice recognition like the Amazon Echo and Dot do, but that didn't pan out. You could enable "Hey Siri" on your iPhone, but if it's not always around for the whole family. It seems silly to leave an iPhone plugged in all the time in a living room.

Wink Relay

Maybe Apple needs a touchscreen console like the new Relay from Wink, but with voice activation. Perhaps a future Apple TV will have a microphone built in? It's hard to think Apple will let Amazon own that interface, given Apple's track record on creating or at least popularizing each new wave of user interfaces, so stay tuned!

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.