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Category “Usability”

Voice Control and Social Norms

Posted Oct 09, 2011 in Technology and Usability Comments 0

Siri’s social dilemma:

Secondly, voice assistance carries a whole host of privacy issues. Some are basic: How do you prevent others from using your phone with voice commands? What kind of access security is built in to a system like Siri? In some cases, it can become more complex. Consider how much private information is contained in your smartphone. How much of that information would you be comfortable broadcasting around you to strangers and people you know? Would you be willing to have Siri dictate your texts, emails or appointments out loud in your workplace? At home? You can imagine a thousand and one scenarios where that would be undesirable. Would you want a secretary dictating your next appointment out loud into your doctor’s iPhone for everyone in the waiting room to hear?

I have no idea if Siri’s voice control service is as good as the hype claims (let me be uncharacteristically pessimistic and assume not), but if it is — and if becomes widely used — then we’re probably looking at a shift in social norms around communication technology as significant as the shifts following the adoption of the mobile phone. Remember when conspicuous mobile phone usage marked you out as an irredeemable wanker? And how that marking changed almost overnight?

Blip FM Issues

Posted Apr 08, 2009 in Usability and Web Design Comments 2

I joined up with Blip.FM a couple of weeks back, but found a dismaying number of privacy and usability landmines in the sign-up and bootstrap process. I shot off a support email to the team right away, but haven’t had a response. I reckon it’s always useful to document some of these kinds of issues in public. Or maybe I’m just a cranky sod. Not sure.

Hi guys,

I’ve just signed up but I have to admit that I find the auto-filling of DJs into my favourites is a bit pushy and unwelcome. I’m given a form to list a few favourite bands with language about how “we’ll find people who play similar music”. There’s nothing to suggest that moving to the next screen then automatically builds a recommendation list and adds it without any chance to refuse or intervene. That’s a big turn-off and is the kind of thing that makes me very inclined to delete my account right away. I recognise that you say it’s “easy to add and remove DJs at any time” but I don’t want to have to perform major weeding on my profile as my first action when using a new service. All you need to say is “add these to my profile: yes/no” and we’d be cool.

I also think that the Find Friends page needs to make it incredibly, indelibly clear that NOTHING WILL BE SENT to any users that I locate unless very explicitly permitted.

On Keyboards

Posted Apr 30, 2008 in Design and Usability Comments 1

Via Daring Fireball (who devoted an entire episode of his podcast to Apple keyboards), Mark Llobrera rants entertainingly about the pathetic state of keyboards in our diminished world of the Fourth Age.

I actually have a Matias Tactile Pro keyboard. I don’t use it anymore because the noise really is a bit much for a shared work environment. Plus, some of the keys (like the Return!) work very poorly. And the plastic housing is amazingly brittle and I’ve already injured myself on some of the razor-sharp shards that break off it. Catriona wondered very quickly after I bought it why I’d dropped AUS $200 on a computer keyboard. I sometimes wonder about that myself — and I’m still searching for the perfect QWERTY interface.