Virtual Assistants – Convenient or Creepy?

As a User Experience Researcher, I often welcome new services and products into my life. One of them being the switch from iPhone to Android and agreeing to everything Google asked me during the setup process. I shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened next.

Google figured out where I live, where I work, when I was driving, what I recently purchased and where I was when snapping photos from my phone (the list goes on … ). From there my phone decided for me (1) how that information should be translated and (2) when it should be presented to me.

My initial reaction was “ooo, fancy”.  My secondary reaction was, “ok, that’s a little bit creepy”.

Google claims I have a say in what I want to see through Google Now, by choosing to accept or decline the information, but some like Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner says, “Considering how other Google services work [i.e., Google Buzz], I doubt there will be much user control.”

After some digging I was reminded by the outrage Google users expressed after Google Buzz released the “Auto-Follow” feature, which automatically suggested and created circles based on your frequently emailed contacts. This did not go over well and people were furious with the boundaries Google crossed.

The funny thing is that was only 4 years ago. Have we already become that much more accepting of being under the microscope of our smartphones?

We’re curious to hear what you have to say. Do you find it creepy that your phone knows so much about you? Or do you find it convenient that the legwork is already done?

Take the quick survey below to help us better understand your comfort level and see how you rank with the rest of people!


(Yes, I know. I used Google Survey … )