We are UX geeks. You already know that.

What you might not know is how much we geek out when we spot a product out in the marketplace that we think is especially cool from a usability standpoint. The products we highlight in our blogs are game changers. They are the latest and greatest. These cutting edge products are positively impacting user’s lives, and motivating us to do what we do best. They are the products we love. 

Take a look for yourself, and see if you feel the love, too:

Amazon Echo

This product is a usability dream come true. By connecting to a cloud-based voice service named “Alexa,” you can get information like answers to questions, news, sports scores, weather, and more all by simply asking a question. It plays music, and can even control the lights in your house. Think of this product as a Siri for your home—only cooler.

What we love about it:

Voice Recognition: Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where the Alexa Voice Service recognizes and responds to your request. It’s not always listening to you, only when you say the key wake word.

And don’t worry about yelling at it. With seven sensitive microphones, the Echo has a keen sense of hearing when you say the wake word. Using your voice as the control mechanism means you can be hands-free.

Alexa’s voice recognition feature is very convenient in a variety of situations. Imagine you’re baking in the kitchen, hands messy with dough, and you notice you’re almost out of flour. You simply say, “Alexa, add flour to my shopping list.” And Alexa automatically takes care of the task for you. This element of real world consideration that Amazon built into the Echo is why we love it so much. 

Integrates with Mobile: Another feature we love about this product is the integration it has with the mobile Alexa App. With the app, you can easily manage your alarm, shopping lists, notes and more.

Lights: Everybody loves a good light show, right? We love the ring of light that sits atop the device because it provides continuous feedback to the user. The lights provide the user with a visual representation of progress, letting them know their request was heard. A user experience paradise.

Apple CarPlay

If you’re into Apple products, chances are you’ve let that iOS operating system into many aspects of your life. It has infiltrated your desktop, phone, tablet and even your wrist watch. So why not let it take over your car, too?

Apple’s CarPlay has made the cut for “Products We Love.” This product boasts itself as being “the best iPhone experience on four wheels,” and we couldn’t agree more. We predict it being a standard aspect of driving experiences from here on out. 

What we love about it:

It’s Safer: A user’s goal when driving is to safely get from point A to point B. From phone calls to music to direction searches, there are many distractions while you’re on the road. CarPlay offers a safer way to use your iPhone in the car by letting you do all the things you want on your iPhone while staying focused on the road. 

It’s Easy to Activate: Anything that adds the ability to do two tasks at once is a big plus. CarPlay works with Siri voice control, or with your car’s knobs, buttons, and touchscreen. Siri can read, send, and reply to text messages while driving. 

It Can Read Your Mind: Okay, maybe not literally read your mind. But it gets pretty close. Apple Maps integration can predict where you most likely want to go using addresses from your email, texts, contacts, and calendars. 

We love products that make life easier. Both of these products are great examples of user experiences designed in a way to help a person get something done, not get in the way.