People tend to summon voice assistant to “do things,” such as making phone calls and setting reminders, rather than asking general questions about the weather, traffic, etc., according to Google Assistant lead engineer Scott Huffman.
Assistant queries are 40 times more likely to be action-oriented than Search, with people asking for things like “send a text message,” “turn off the lights” or “turn on airplane mode” for their smartphones.
“People have been asking Google for years about everything you can imagine but we noticed a real fundamental shift when we moved to voice. People started asking us to do things, not just to get answers,” Huffman said at Transform 2018, a VentureBeat AI event held in California.
Users are often busy when interacting with a voice assistant, and a hands-free interface makes it easier for the users. A key application for voice is in the smart home. When asked which of their devices they would like to control via a personal assistant, 42% of smart door lock owners and 33% of smart TV owners had these devices in their top three, according to a survey conducted by Parks Associates.
Among home security owners, 24% ranked this system as the top product they would like to control through a personal assistant, which was the highest percentage among all systems or products to be picked first.
The Power of Visual Display
Collectively, companies are competing to stay in the race for dominance in the voice-first market. They are regularly announcing new integrations and partnerships to create innovative voice-based use cases, to enable a robust user experience.
Google has been active in launching new features and capabilities for its voice assistant. Besides telling users good news of the day, scheduling reservations and making fashion suggestions, Google Assistant will reportedly soon be inserted into a speaker with screen to present visual information to users.
The benefits of visuals are abundantly clear when users want to engage in shopping, looking at lists or getting driving directions.
Unlike most technologies, the voice interface requires no learning, and even kids and seniors can use it fairly quickly. Riding on this trend, Google Assistant’s usage reportedly shot up three-fold this year compared to last year.
Samsung Bixby Focuses on User Experience
South Korea-based Samsung Electronics has also thrown down much resource in developing its Bixby voice assistant. Yoon C. Lee, Samsung Electronics America’s senior vice president of content and services and head of the product innovation, pointed out at Transform 2018 that thanks to AI, Bixby will become more personal, versatile and easy to use, helping the voice assistant differentiate from Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri.
“What’s going to launch in the market is experience first,” Lee said. “We’re focusing on certain experiences. It’s not that consumers don’t want a lot of options – they don’t want complexity. The great thing about voice is that it’s parallel, not serial. Bixby is making your connected lifestyle more useful to you, because it’s tied to the devices that know most about you.”