Google Voice Search to Take Off in 2020
We’re so used to saying “Hang on…” to our friends while we grab the nearest device and google for the nearest Lebanese deli. We don’t even think about it anymore – our smartphones are just an extension of our arms and eyes!
Searching on a device isn’t going to be our number-one method for much longer, it seems. Voice is catching up fast and will probably take over soon.
Right now, we’re in a transition period between text and voice searches, but by 2020, around 50% of all searches will be done by voice – 30% without any sort of screen. It’ll all become perfectly normal, too.
Who uses voice search?
Most of the voice searchers – using smart speakers – are aged between 18 and 36. They’re followed by the 37-52 age group and just 15% are aged 53 and older.
Around 70% of smart speaker searchers (SSS?) are married and own their own homes and 58% of smart speaker owners earn more than $US75,000 a year. However, teens are far more likely to use Siri and similar mobile search methods. Whatever platform it is, it shows how we’re evolving to use voice search more and more.
What are people searching for?
Alexa and similar devices are used at home, which is no great surprise. Mobile voice searches take place mostly in the car and ask for things like the nearest garage and for calls to be made.
At home, people ask for recipe advice, news, weather forecasts and for music. Top Alexa searches from 2017 included ordering pizza and turning lights on.
In no great time, however, we won’t even be tied to Alexa. Our fridges, ovens and thermostats will be taking orders and looking up items, adding Parmesan cheese to the weekly shop and even making jokes with us.
There are some teething issues
Voice searches appeal to us because we don’t have to break off what we’re doing to pick up a device. However, we need to remember that we’re not talking to another human. We expect Alexa to understand mumbling, slang, regional accents and so on, when the machine learning isn’t quite up to it yet.
With text searches, there are no accents or mumbling and we can also spot spelling mistakes before we hit enter so we can correct ourselves. With speech, once it’s out it’s out and Alexa will often just say it can’t understand the question rather than dish out the wrong information.
We often have to wait for Alexa to fail before trying again and if there’s repeated misunderstandings, we tend to give up and try a text search instead.
What’s the future?
Voice recognition is only going to get better so the user experience will be much smoother and easier. Once it’s faster and fails less, voice will be used more and more, so we’ll have that 50% by 2020 and possibly, if more devices offer voice interaction, text searches will fall into second place.