Fate of the Digital Assistant (or Why Integration Matters)

(Mods feel free to move as you see fit)

Warning: Long story to follow. For the TLDR crew: Would I use Apple if it weren’t for Siri, Apple Watch and the Apple Pencil on iPad?

I pulled out my Duo Deux during a lecture to a law school class a couple of days ago because my Surface Pro 8 was displaying the PowerPoint, and I needed a separate document from OneDrive containing my notes/prompts for a case discussion (I still believe in the Socratic Method). Afterwards, a student who noticed the MS logos asked in jest what I had against Apple.

The exchange prompted me to ask myself, yet again, why also I carry an iPhone and wear an Apple Watch as primary devices, and an iPad for casual use.

It comes down to integration.

The Apple Pencil made the iPad the “battery lasts all day” compact digital handwriting tool Tablet PC’s never quite achieved. The integration of iOS/iPadOS and very functional ports of the MS apps made it far easier to go from phone to tablet to desktop while keeping things in the same app. The Siri on the Apple Watch allows me to create reminders, tasks and appointments without having to pick up (or dig out) a phone, tablet or keyboard to do input such that the input appears in the same app(s) - albeit with a few workarounds.

You might be prompted to ask if the better question isn’t “why don’t you ditch MS?” I am where I am because (in no particular order):

  • My current job is in a committed MS shop.
  • Apple/iOS compatible apps (even the MS apps) are often good but not as fully capable as the Windows counterparts I have to have to get some of my work done.
  • Despite the promises of Android 12/12L and 13, I can’t see that Android tablets have gotten or will get to the level of iPad or Surface Pro - in spite of Samsung’s heroic efforts to keep inking alive.
  • I want to like Samsung, but between the forking of One UI and Bixby, its version of integration seems to be both self-serving and incomplete.
  • Windows Phone was ahead of its time; neither iOS 16 nor Android 12 provides its home screen capabilities.
  • WatchOS continues to be a circus of hyperactive toddlers that won’t run on more than one generation of hardware at a time.
  • After MS did to Cortana what Dave Bowman did to HAL 9000 (Google and Amazon are also apparently scaling back/repurposing Assistant and Alexa respectively), Siri is the best, simplest interface for hands free interaction with the apps I use/need most.
  • Some irrational part of my brain still hopes a future Duo or NEO will run Windows (I say irrational because that won’t solve the watch problem).

/End Musing


Score a BIG ONE for @Bishop! :clap: :+1: :clap:

My “failed” experiment taught me similar things:

  1. There is NO integration on the MS or Samsung sides comparable to Apple’s, and despite Intel Unison I don’t believe there ever will be
  2. My byzantine file structure, and Office superiority on Windows, chain me to SP8 FOR NOW
  3. Someday, when I can finally retire, or Apple permits MS to “create” a file system for its applications (maybe OneDrive is the “file system” and I just don’t know enough to implement it).
  4. Someday I will be in a world of only iWatch, iPhone, and iPad Pro II’ll also find that pony under that huge pile of horse manure)…

As a person all-in on Wacom, and w/ a matching pair of Samsung devices, but which are divided by one being Windows (Samsung Galaxy Book 12) and one being Android (Galaxy Note 10+), the integration of Apple’s eco-system is definitely something I envy and wish other systems had.

That said, I haven’t bothered to set up Nebo.app so that both copies share storage — I believe this is just a matter of some credentials, though I might have to pay a bit extra.

I’ve been considering going all-in on Obsidian and paying for a Publishing license, but need to finish my current Gitbook project first:

As I noted in another thread, an Outlook client for the Kindle Scribe would be perfect for work purposes (where I live and die by the state of my Outlook inbox and attendant meetings), and a Teams-oriented note-taking app would be huge.

I miss my Newton, and Nebo.app is the closest thing to it which I’ve found — but there’s no equivalent in it to Newton Intelligence, no calendar, integrated to-do-list, &c. Still miss PenPoint to and its wonderful object-oriented notebook-centric UI.

My wish would be that Samsung would buy the Nebo apps out, and build something around that which was extensible and flexible.

1 Like

It’s funny, I don’t get why MS is signaling a ‘retrenching’ on Cortana. Was it too expensive to maintain or develop? I still use Cortana in much the same way that I use Siri: set simple reminders. I even prefer Cortana in the office since I can simply type my requests (“at 6pm remind me to swing by the supermarket”, stuff like that). Seems useful, why hide it/gut it?


OneNote does everything I need and has done so for years.

I wish they’d improve the Android app though.

I use ToDoList for some memos, but mostly I just use my born with memory for that.