YAHOO HAS made the somewhat curious decision to release a digital assistant based around SMS messaging.
'Captain', which made its debut in the US this week, eschews apps and voice control, instead creating a system where it can remind you or members of your family about '‘stuff'.
By creating a group and adding members of your family, all via SMS, you can then add reminders, shopping list items and such, and assign them to a person and time or location.
Yahoo openly markets this as an alternative to more advanced assistants like Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. Rather, it is designed to work on any phone, any network and act as an external hive-mind for the family group.
But can an SMS-based text-bot really compete? We think that, for a specific audience, the answer is yes. For the have-nots who can't afford flashy equipment or unlimited data plans, and for parents who are less tech-savvy but understand the benefits of a digital assistant.
With most operators offering virtually unlimited texts as part of bundles, the service will be virtually cost-neutral too.
The release of a new product is something of a surprise, given that Yahoo is in a volatile state right now, in the middle of a takeover by US cellular giant Verizon.
Moreover, let's face it, Yahoo doesn't exactly have a glowing record when it comes to user data security right now, and it might put people off a bit to dump even more of their personal data onto servers that have seen their fair share of the hackman's blade recently.
But most important of all - let's not create false expectation. Captain is an interesting concept, but it doesn't even sync with existing calendars, not even your Yahoo calendar. It works in complete isolation, which makes it useless for anyone who has ever used anything else.
There's no indication of when the UK will meet Captain, but our US readers can get started by texting "Hi" to 773-786. µ
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