Voice Will Soon Be the Primary UI for Mobile Search

Voice is becoming the preferred way to interact with and control mobile devices. That’s according to a recent study from Stone Temple/Perficient Digital. The survey asked just over 1,700 US adults about their attitudes and behavior in connection with voice on mobile devices and virtual assistants.

As a basic matter, the survey found that people were using voice more than in the past, in multiple environments. The inhibition against speaking to your smartphone in public now largely appears to be a thing of the past — although “at home” and “office alone” are still the dominant use cases.

Findings surrounding voice search usage were mixed. Online search was cited by roughly 23% of respondents as an application they’ve controlled by voice — a relatively small percentage. Other surveys have found higher numbers, however. By contrast, consumers used voice commands to initiate calls or texts or get directions (or play music) more often.

Voice search findings

However, asked about their top input method for mobile search, the answers in order were:

  1. Mobile browser
  2. Voice search
  3. Phone’s search box/window
  4. Search app
  5. Text a friend

Voice as a search UI has grown at the apparent expense of the browser since last year and could overtake text input into the browser as the primary mobile search use case a year from now.

Satisfaction with Siri

Interestingly the survey also found relatively high satisfaction with virtual assistants. Over half of respondents (53%) said that Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana understood them “well” or “very well.” More than three-quarters (78%) said they were comfortable accessing virtual assistants using wake words like “OK Google” or “Hey Siri.”

These findings contain no real revelations but confirm the growth and increasing popularity of voice. And even though the “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” statistic is questionable, voice is moving inexorably toward becoming the the primary mobile UI.

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