Apps that talk back

by Giles Turnbull

Have you encountered any applications that 'talk back' to you while you're using them? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Sometimes you update an application and you don't really notice any changes. That's fine - things have probably changed under the hood, where you can't see them.

But sometimes you update an application and a change leaps out at you. Sometimes, that change is so well done, so welcome, and so darned unexpected that it brings a smile to your face and makes you want to jump around the room.

My favorite P2P filesharing application, Acquisition made one such change a few months ago.

Now, when you start typing a search query into Acquisition, it instantly gives you a drop-down list of suggestions to help you narrow down your search, and finish typing it sooner, much like Google Suggest. Here's what I mean:

Acquisition's suggestions in action

It's such a simple little addition, from the user's point of view (I don't pretend to know how much work went into coding such a feature, nor would I want to hazard a guess), but it makes the world of difference. Especially when you're typing in a search string and you're not even sure how it should be spelt. Simply for getting things done a little quicker, it's very useful.

Acquisition is helping me out by anticipating what I want to do. The software is second-guessing my next move and trying to help by offering me a way to do it faster. Is this something that's catching on in interface design? Do you like the idea, or would you rather have software that shuts up and lets you make up your own mind?

Tell me about other apps that talk back


2005-11-15 04:18:01
talking app
well, i ease my work distributing files over to different servers using automated shell scripts (and ssh keys). these literary talk back to me when tasks are done or errors encountered, using power of the 'say' command available in OS X cli. does it count? :9
2005-11-15 19:17:57
Check Inquisitor from the same dude who made Acquisition. Makes Safari's Google search box sing.