Friday, August 29, 2014

Why would anyone want this hands-free interface?

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 Android phone with Verizon as my carrier.  I'm reasonably pleased with it.  However the hands-free operation has me frustrated and angry.

First there's the bug:  Sitting in the cradle on my car dash, connected to my radio via bluetooth, I hit "Voice Dial" on the radio.  If the phone is asleep, voice dial simply crashes.  So before I do anything hands free, I need to finger the phone and wake it from sleep.

It used to be better: I used to be able to call my mom at home by saying, "Call Barbara Cattey at home."  If the Google voice recognizer could make out my words it would reply "Calling Barbara Cattey at Ho..." and it would dial the phone.

Somebody broke it:  Now when I hit voice dial, I have to pull over to handle the distraction:

phone: "Please say call and then a name or number."

me: "Call Barbara Cattey."

phone: "Please say, 'Select 1' for Home, 'Select 2' for Mobile, 'Select 3' for Work."

me: "Select 1."

phone: "Do you wish to call Barbara Cattey at home?  Say 'OK' or 'Cancel'.

me: "OK".

phone: "Calling Barbara Cattey at Home."

The interface changed from one that was simple and easy to this messy back and forth.  I don't know if it is some update that broke the interface, or some deep configuration option that I inadvertently hit.

Now I hate it!
I want the good interface back!

Who created this dialog interface?  I want to hurt them until they understand how bad it is, and they get rid of it and replace it with the simple one pass interface.

Addendum 31 August:

When I announced this blog posting on Facebook, several people replied (in part because submitting comments here is mysteriously broken, even though we've checked the settings multiple times, but I digress...)

Michael Maggard pointed out the problem was that I was running the Samsung S-Voice interface.

The reality is much more complex and silly.

After about 5 hours beating on this I have learned the following:

1. I WAS using the S-Voice interface, but I had configured it to use the Google Voice Search.
2. The setup broke after I took the Verizon Android 4.3 update for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
3. There are a couple threads out in the ether about what broke, but Verizon hasn't clued in.  I believe this thread has a definitive answer about ASDP vs. AS2P protocol.  Or perhaps it's the mono vs. the stereo bluetooth headset connection.  Anyway, for Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4 phones after the May 2014 update, S-Voice quit working on SOME bluetooth interfaces.
4. The default google search is the icky dialog I mentioned above.
5. For some reason you can't get to "Google Voice Search" (which I think is a different name for their smarter "Google Now" search) as an action on bluetooth.  Your choices are S-Voice or Dumb Google Search.
6. There is an app called "Bluetooth Launch" that will let you make ANYTHING launch on the Bluetooth wakeup.
7. If you can cope with an unspeakably tiny font (I literally got out an eye loupe to read the screen.) you can set "" as the ting for "Bluetooth Launch" to do instead of "Google Search" or "S-Voice."

My hands-free behavior is now set back to what I wanted.

Questions going forward:

1. Why does the obvious Google Voice Dial app behave so badly?
2. Why is it so hard to set the good Google Voice Search?
3. Will Verizon ever clue in about what they broke?
4. Why wasn't it obvious to everyone that, "Call Barbara Cattey at home." was the best way to do this and the rest of the ways should have been pushed aside, and this way made easy?

Ok, it's 4:00 AM and time for me to simmer down and go to sleep.

Good night everybody.

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