10 Trends Which Will Impact Voice in 2020

by | Nov 12, 2019 | Conferences, Voice Technology

2020 Voice Predictions

Vixen Labs CCO and Co-Founder Jen Heape speaking at Mobile UX London Meet Up 

At the Mobile UX London October meetup, our co-founder Jen set herself a challenge: to whizz through 2019’s top Voice innovations in 10 minutes. Regardless of whether she did — or, ahem, did not — manage this, her whistle-stop tour of headlines not only rounded up 2019 so far, but also gave us a heads-up on the 10 trends which will take Voice into the new decade.

 

1 – ACCESSIBILITY INCREASES

Platforms are realising ways in which Voice assistants can be used by people who may find it more difficult to complete daily tasks or access the internet. Facebook has pushed hard in above the line (TV) advertising for its new video-calling device Portal, promising it can help keep families around the world connected like never before. And Alexa’s new Show and Tell feature could hold huge value for visually impaired people. 

 

THE 2020 PREDICTION:

users will become more familiar with using smart speakers to keep in touch with others, live independently (including with bespoke innovations like the Pria robotic companion), and stay physically and mentally active. Providers will notice this increased need and respond with more user options.

 

2 – DIVERSITY REMAINS A FOCUS

Alexa and Google assistant are 30% less likely to understand non-American accents (never mind about regional). The average accuracy rate of a white male using Alexa is 92%; mixed race female is 69%. Debates continue around how AI biases arise.

THE 2020 PREDICTION:

discussion will move from whether AI is biased, to how we can improve algorithms and work in ways which is less biased.

A headline: 

BBC to launch digital voice assistant (“BBC staff around the UK are being invited to record their voices to help train the programme to recognise different accents.”)

3 – DISCOVERABILITY

When releasing, say, an iOS app, we would create a marketing campaign. For some reason, because Voice still feels new and shiny, people are just somehow supposed to divine that a Skill exists. Want people to use your skill? Tell them!

THE 2020 PREDICTION:

increased understanding of marketing spend will have obvious impacts on the uptake of skills and Voice assistants. Voice marketing will take off.

 

4 – NEWS PUSHES FORWARD

Organisations who are both content creators and news providers (e.g. the BBC) are pulling back from operating in areas they can’t get data and doubling down in areas where they see real value for their users.

 

The 2020 prediction:

broadcasters will be expected to tailor content for smart speakers in a similar way that websites are expected to mobile-optimised.

 

5 – IN SKILL PURCHASING

ISP arrived in the UK and a few other markets in May. This hasn’t yet had a huge visual impact on the industry, but skill developers are beginning to build in this ability. In-app purchases created a huge boom for the Apple App Store.

 

The 2020 prediction:

Voice will use ISP to take a step towards a self-sufficient ecosystem which isn’t dependent on brands, marketing, and investments.

 

6 — DIVERSIFICATION FROM ASSISTANTS EVERYWHERE

Assistants are no longer in our homes — they’re appearing in our earphones, our cars, and even our glasses. This diversification is going to create different contexts and different use cases for voice.

The 2020 prediction (or 3): 

Google will focus in on their USP of ‘helpful utilities’ especially if it links in with the ecosystem of Google tools; Amazon will continue to diversify with content and third party (skill) experiences; and single-focus abilities (relative to the context of what’s being interacted with, and where) will greatly increase voice assistant usage.

 

7 – THE WAR OF THE EARBUDS

Samsung Galaxy Buds and Apple Airpods (including the new Pro model) already offer access to Bixby and Siri, respectively. Sony’s range work with both Alexa and Google Assistant. Amazon’s Echo Buds are due for release soon, and Google’s Pixel Buds will follow shortly.

 

The 2020 prediction:

specialised earbuds will change the landscape and use cases for Voice — our assistants can be with us all the time, and in a more private way, via a 1-on-1 experience instead of a speaker that everyone else can hear.

 

8 – PRIVACY CONCERNS RAGE ON

Most mainstream media attention around smart speakers like to focus on security fears; most recently, laser-hacking. Though people are worried about privacy and like to talk about it, they’re still putting these devices at the heart of their homes.

The 2020 prediction:

the industry’s big players will continue to release new ways for users to feel in control of their data.

 

9 – VOICE OFFLINE

“I’m having trouble connecting!” is a frustrating phrase to hear emanating from any smart device. Google has been the first to make a real move in utilising Voice offline. 

The 2020 prediction:

multiple voice assistants will release offline features.

 

10 – MORE UNICORNS ARE ON THE HORIZON 🦄

Proper UX design takes so. much. TIME. This isn’t being widely or well-recognised yet — which means it’s proving tricky to find the level of investment backing experienced with iOS back in the day.

The 2020 prediction:

We already have AI unicorns across the globe, including those in voice recognition (MobVoi, iFlyTek). Big investments in the developers creating the assistants and skills which live in our devices will lead to a big improvement in the level of quality, consideration and thought that goes into the methodologies of building technology we want to have in our lives.

Start building your voice strategy today

Much like the web, search and mobile – the first movers get to learn early, build credibility and take market share when a new interface emerges. Voice assistants and conversational AI is no different. Now is the time to get started.

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