Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

Even though Siri is closing in on having existed for a decade, the voice assistant hasn’t come close to the level of capability and admiration achieved by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Since Google’s Assistant arrived in 2016, the competition in the voice assistant space has really been a two-horse race…until now? This week we’re learning how Siri’s shortcut integrations and SiriKit commands are enabling thousands of apps to be a part of iOS users’ ecosystem. While they’re late to the race, this could help Apple gain broader usage of the assistant and get back in the game. With Siri now available on 500 million devices, Apple’s recent acquisition activity and the industry’s bullish stance on Airpods’ breakout success things could get interesting quickly.

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Shortcutting the Voice Race

Apple is ramping up its efforts toward improving Siri with this week’s news of new app integrations available for Siri Shortcuts. Major integrations now include food delivery through Caviar, Merriam Webster Dictionary access and trip information provided by Airbnb or American Airlines. Apple also announced that more will be coming over the next two months. Siri has now quietly amassed thousands of new shortcut integrations and SiriKit-enabled commands in a short period of time. Although Siri has been seen as a laggard behind Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, the improvements and integrations now in-market show signs that this perception could change quickly. More on CNET

Alexa the Nurse

Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has launched a voice-driven pilot program, putting Amazon Echos in over 100 patient rooms. The program has loaded Aiva, a healthcare-focused voice assistant platform, onto the devices for patients to use. Aiva allows patients to ask their echos for help completing tasks such as switching TV channels and requesting medications. Aiva will push patient requests directly to the attending nurse via their mobile phones and, if a response is deemed to take too long, will intelligently route the request to others on duty as needed. The pilot represents yet another push into healthcare by voice-first platforms and, if the program is scaled further, could help to set a new patient service precedent in the field. More on TechCrunch

The Alpha Alexa Puzzle

In January, it was confirmed that Wolfram|Alpha had integrated with Amazon’s Alexa service to improve “its ability to provide users with factual information about history, economics, geography, math, and astronomy.” Since the integration, vocalize.ai has shared results from a knowledge-testing exercise they performed around geography data. This exercise compared answer results from Alexa pre and post-integration. The findings showed that post-integration Alexa’s correct answers in this category increased by 7%. However, they also found that many answers previously given were removed, equating to a 4% decrease in knowledge. While there is no discernible reason these prior answers have disappeared, it suggests that Alexa is either continually evaluating answers which may lead to removal or that new integrations, such as Wolfram|Alpha, may be superseding previous answers and unintentionally creating knowledge gaps. One thing is for sure— Alexa’s brain continues to confound and fascinate analysts. More on Voicebot

Stats Don’t Lie

39% Consumers who think voice ads are more engaging than other formats (data from Adobe)

86.2 Million Units 2018 global smart speaker sales, up 100% YoY (data via Strategy Analytics)

Chart of the Week
Consumer brands selling on Amazon see voice opportunity

chart-of-the-week-14

(Voicebot)

In Case You Missed It

We teamed up with Nike and Google on the world’s first voice-activated sneaker drop. Learn how here.

Plus, RAIN’s CEO Nithya Thadani is talking voice and retail today with Alexa’s Chief Evangelist Dave Isbitski at Shoptalk. If you’re there, say hi!