The Most Overrated Tech Features of 2023

The Most Overrated Tech Features of 2023

Should auld technology be forgot, and never brought to mind? We’ve been celebrating the best tech we bought in 2023, but pinpointing this year’s standouts also led us to ponder what fell on the other end of the spectrum. What were the worst things we saw this year? What products, features, and ideas didn’t live up to their high-flying promises? After mulling it over, we decided that our biggest disappointments were found in overrated features. These are our top (or is it bottom?) five:

Meta AI Personas

The Most Overrated Tech Features of 2023(Credit: Meta)

After the implosion of the metaverse, Meta has had to find a new direction and so it has latched onto the latest trend in the most bizarre, Meta way possible with AI Personas. These are AI chatbots with the faces of celebrities that were paid millions of dollars for their likeness, yet the persona part of the bots (their names and specialties) bear no relation to the famous faces.

There are 28 AI Personas, among them are Kendall Jenner (who is known for her blank-faced modeling that makes her the true least-interesting member of her family to look at) as the face of Billie, a ride-or-die friend to turn to for advice; Paris Hilton as Amber, a detective who can help you solve whodunits; and Snoop Dogg as Dungeon Master, who can help run roleplaying adventures. They’re all reachable for messaging on Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

After the weirdness of the enterprise faded from the news cycle, we haven’t heard much at all from the Meta AI Personas. If you don’t believe us, try asking Billie. 

Voice Cues on Humane’s AI Pin

While the Humane AI Pin doesn’t actually ship until March of next year, after watching the demo of it in action, it’s hard not to worry about our immediate, louder future. Much of the interface relies on voice—both that of the user and that of the AI. 

This is precisely the kind of tech that the word doesn’t need right now, especially considering that more and more people are brazenly using their phone’s speaker for audio and video calls, streaming shows, and listening to music, despite the prevalence of AirPods and other wireless headphones. While the Humane AI Pin can indeed work with Bluetooth headphones, its format will likely encourage more loud chat between device and user. 

3. Google Search Generative Experience

AI was everywhere this year, with maybe the most noticeable place being Google Search. The Google Search Generative Experience was released into beta in May, giving people the option of getting AI-written summaries that answered their queries right on the search page instead of being linked to sources. 

This search has the potential to gut publishing. By taking the work of those who write on the internet with barely any credit (except for a clickable arrow to see sources) and by bypassing the source sites, Google can easily collapse an entire industry that depends on advertising to exist. 

To make this example personal, because it is, PCMag puts thousands of hours per year into extensive testing of electronics. Our staff gets paid mostly from people visiting our site through the advertising that appears next to (but doesn’t influence) these reviews. It costs nothing for people to read these helpful, unbiased reviews, but if Google instead summarizes the work of our analysts on its own site, we would be unable to pay staff to create the reviews.

Google does not show any signs of stopping its AI-generated search and so far there are no good answers in media about what to do about it. 

2. Tesla Autopilot

(Credit: Chloe Albanesius/PCMag)

While Tesla’s Autopilot has been a feature of its line of cars for a while and a concern for just as long. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association began investigating accidents related to Autopilot over two years ago and has since expanded that investigation. A Washington Post analysis of data found that Autopilot was to blame in eight fatal or serious crashes. 

But it was this year that it saw a recall of the feature by the NHTSA. An over-the-air software update will fix the issue in question though there are calls for further action over the controversial feature. 

1. Apple Watch Blood Oxygen Sensor

(Credit: Apple)

This one wasn’t necessarily overrated, but was perhaps rather rushed on Apple’s part. The blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 essentially measures how well the lungs are working. It is valuable info on its own or as part of a larger health picture but the way that the sensor works in the Watches is the subject of an International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation. 

Medical tech company Masimo filed a patent dispute with the ITC after it said that it met with Apple about incorporating its work into the Watch. Masimo claims that Apple declined to partner but did poach key employees and had them recreate Masimo’s technology, infringing on the company’s patents. The ITC ruled in Masimo’s favor and the two Watch models with the technology were temporarily removed from sale. They are now back in stores while Apple appeals via the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 

Whatever the outcome of that appeal, Apple is at work redesigning the feature in a way that it says will get around the patent issue and it has asked US Customs to approve that redesign.

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