Combining Text and Talk

In many ways conversational interfaces and AI was introduced via chatbots. As consumers have become more comfortable with the technology, we’ve seen companies such as Amtrak, Whole Foods, Bank of America, and more invest significantly in adding chatbots to their websites, mobile apps and social media presences. With voice emerging as a new and intuitive way for people to engage with technology, we now see conversational experiences offering the ability to either type or speak your commands, providing a multimodal experience that seamlessly combines both display and audio. Providing this choice of modality for input becomes important as assistant technology is now moving into more public spaces, imploring companies to enable more natural options for users to communicate in noisy or crowded environments. Amazon’s latest public test of chat-based Alexa access is another sign of where assistants may be heading next. 

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Alexa Learns Texting

Amazon is testing “Type With Alexa,” a feature that allows users to type their commands to the voice assistant instead of speaking. The test is part of a public preview for iOS users in the US, allowing them to send Alexa commands or ask questions via chat. By adding this functionality, Amazon is enabling customers to easily access Alexa in situations where speaking isn’t optimal, such as in public places or quiet spaces. This test could also be seen as a way for Alexa to better compete with Google Assistant for share of mobile users as Google has made their assistant available via mobile and a chatbot-like interface since it launched. More on The Verge

New Year, New Bixby

Despite rumors earlier this year that Bixby may be getting deprioritized, Samsung has nevertheless recently revamped Bixby Voice with a new redesign and more updates for the voice app. The app puts new commands front-and-center for users to easily access and suggests customized voice commands based on your past usage patterns and other Bixby-enabled devices. In addition, within the capsule marketplace, Bixby displays trending commands and recommends commands for popular apps. With these personalized features, Samsung is seeking to advance Bixby’s capabilities, encouraging customers to easily access the assistant and find new ways to use it in their daily tasks. More on Samsung

Upgrading Radio Ads

Audi partnered with AdTonos, an online audio ad platform, to release the first real-time voice-enabled ad on commercial radio. London listeners of three of Octave’s radio stations on Alexa or Google Assistant are prompted to book a time to test drive the newest Audi model. If the listener confirms, the ad finds the nearest Audi dealership to help them reserve an appointment. As interactive audio ads on Pandora, Spotify, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock continue to be tested by major brands, companies are increasingly exploring how they might use these platforms and new voice ad technology to reach a wider audience while creating an engaging customer experience. More on

Stats Don’t Lie

3% The percentage of revenues companies plan on spending on building voice capabilities in the next five years. (data via Cognizant)

49% of US broadband households own a smart speaker or smart display. (data from Parks Associates via PR Newswire)

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Owned Assistants: What Happens in 2021 and Beyond? 

Our final installment of our report ‘The Dawn of Brand-Owned Virtual Assistants’ ventures into the future of the #voice ecosystem as owned assistants continue to evolve. It’s not enough for brands to just build for mainstream voice assistants—they need to build their own proprietary strategies, designs, technologies, and features of the customer experience that can’t be easily replicated. By betting on themselves, brands will emerge all the stronger.

Read Chapter 4: ‘What Comes Next? A Prism of Possibilities’