Friction matters (and so do batteries)

I slept in this morning. Accidentally.

See, we’ve packed everything up to hit the road. We’re heading West to kick of the 2017 tech tour.

That means we’ve also packed up our Amazon Echo and Dot. Which we use every morning as an alarm.

So, we decided to use our iPhone as an alarm clock instead.

The problem: we didn’t pay attention to the phone’s battery level and it died overnight.

Anyway, I’m not trying to bore you with my inability to wake up at a reasonable time on a weekday. Messing around with my Echo and my iPhone got me thinking.

Amazon’s Alexa is so much easier to use than Apple’s Siri. Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: I don’t have to pause when I use Alexa.

For a moment, let’s put aside technical differences (Amazon’s devices are plugged into the wall while Apple’s devices are usually running on battery power) and privacy concerns (Amazon’s devices are always listening while Apple’s devices require a verbal prompt).

Here’s what the actual experience sounds like:

“Alexa, how’s the weather?”


“Hey Siri. [PAUSE… and wait for the prompt] How’s the weather?”

That pause makes all the difference: I use Alexa multiple times a day (we have one at home and in the Airstream) and I might use Siri once a month (usually when I’m wearing gloves and dreading the cold).

My point is that friction matters, especially when you’re doing anything in the consumer space.

Also, keep your phone charged up. Especially when you’re depending on it.

Also published on Medium.