Scratching the Surface of Voice

As a nascent space, voice technology’s full potential has not yet been realized. But in the last few years, assistants have made large strides in the quest to be smarter, seamlessly providing user experiences that quickly answer increasingly complex queries with comprehensive responses. For example, Alexa Conversations—released in July— enables the devices to understand more nuanced requests. With new Amazon and Google features, users can utter commands to perform tasks within mobile apps. Devices across the spectrum are integrating voice tech, forming a connected ecosystem that shares information. Not only do these software improvements push toward a future that centers on ambient computing, they are opening up new opportunities for brands to make their mark before others as the field continues to advance.

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Alexa Is One Step Ahead

Alexa’s new update allows the assistant to anticipate what you are about to ask next by ‘inferring’ users’ goals, providing a smarter voice experience. For example, when asked “How long does it take to steep tea?” Alexa will answer with “5 minutes,” then ask, “Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?” In addition, brands’ skills are also interwoven into these follow-up requests: If users asked what the stock price of a company was, Alexa could respond with the price and then suggest using the CNBC skill for more information. As the new feature tries to make voice AI more fluid and convenient, brands need to start thinking about how they appear in conversation. More on The Verge

Snapchat Gets Serious About Voice

Snapchat is acquiring Voca.ai, a startup that builds voice AI assistants for customer support centers, for nearly $70 million. This isn’t Snapchat’s first voice play—in June, the company released Voice Scan, a feature that allows users to browse filters with voice commands. However, it isn’t clear how Voca.ai fits into the company’s future. As the pandemic continually changes how businesses approach their customers, Snapchat can use the voice technology to improve its customer support services or enhance existing capabilities or hardware, such as the mobile app or even Snapchat Spectacles. More on TechCrunch

Hola Átika

Vodafone Spain recently launched its Átika smart speaker, available with the company’s own voice assistant and Amazon Alexa. As a telecommunications services provider for mobile, broadband, and TV, the speaker is a complement to the company’s smart TV services. Customers can use the assistant to control playback on their TVs and navigate the controls with their voice. As major tech companies continue to expand their reach in Europe and other regions, existing companies are also building their own hardware and voice assistants to work in tandem with their services and meet the growing demand of smart technology. More on Voicebot.ai

Stats Don’t Lie

74% of senior executives view voice as important or extremely important to their business. (data via Cognizant)

23% The percentage increase of daily active users of smartphone voice assistants from 2018-2020. (data via Voicebot.ai)

Chart of the Week

(In Bed With Social)

 

The Davids & The Goliaths

In Part I of our new report ‘The Dawn of Brand-Owned Virtual Assistants,’ we explore the long-standing tension between brands and big tech, and how this dynamic is playing out in the arena of voice technology. Learn how brands are taking back control of their voice experiences—building them in their own image—and how this trend stands to shape the consumer experience landscape in the years to come.

Read ‘The Davids & The Goliaths’ here.