Most people probably won’t use A.I. chatbots this way. For many tasks, it’s still faster to type than talk, and waiting around for ChatGPT to read out long responses was annoying. (It didn’t help that the app was slow and glitchy at times, and often inserted pauses before responding — the result of some technical issues with the beta version of the app I tested that OpenAI told me would be ironed out eventually.)
But I can see the appeal. Having an A.I. speak to you in a humanlike voice is a more intimate experience than reading its responses on a screen. And after a few hours of talking with ChatGPT this way, I felt a new warmth creeping into our conversations. Without being tethered to a text interface, I felt less pressure to come up with the perfect prompt. We chatted more casually, and I revealed more about my life.
“It almost feels like a different product,” said Peter Deng, OpenAI’s vice president of consumer and enterprise product, who spoke with me about the new voice feature. “Because you’re no longer transcribing what you have in your head into your thumbs,” he said, “you end up asking different things.”
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this the plot of the movie “Her”? Will lonely, lovesick users fall for ChatGPT, now that it can listen to them and talk back?