Who Is Using Voice Assistants and Why?

Voice assistants are increasingly popular and functional, but they still have a long way to go. The study discussed here demonstrates that slightly more men than women use voice assistants, and most of that usage is on smartphones (not smart speakers), increasingly for voice search.

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Amazon Alexa
Illustration: © IoT For All

Voice assistants have become a routine part of everyday life for many people. Think about Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant. When they first arrived, however, they weren’t making much of a difference. For example, when people tried tools like Siri and Cortana on their smartphones, they discovered they weren’t delivering much value to them, for the most part due to their error rate and the narrowness of their AI.

Voice assistants were nothing more than a joke when they first arrived due to their inability to provide helpful, rich and contextually-influenced answers. But their developers knew they still had a bright future because, like any other technology, voice recognition needed some more time to evolve.

Fast forward to 2019, and we see that time, more data and better tuned AI algorithms, are what these voice assistants needed. Voice assistants are popular and functional for relatively narrow tasks (like calling or texting people), but they still have a long way to go. Moreover, voice search is slowly but surely overtaking traditional internet search, which means the convenience of voice is something that people appreciate.

But, who are the people who are driving the adoption of voice assistants? For what purposes are they using them? Is there more room for the technology to evolve and to continue to impress us?

Let’s address these questions.

Who Is Using Voice Assistants?

Apparently, everyone stands to benefit from having a functional voice assistant, but there are some categories of people who are more active in their adoption of the technology than others. We know this thanks to numerous surveys conducted by independent research companies as well as manufacturers of voice-activated devices trying to understand the needs of their target audiences. 

Since voice adoption is proliferating across a range of different devices, we’ll use smart speakers like Alexa and smartphone-based voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant to demonstrate the features of the users. 

According to the Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report from VoiceBot, almost one in five U.S. adults currently own a voice-enabled smart speaker, which means the technology is used by about 20 percent of the adult population.

In terms of gender, we discovered males are more likely to own a smart speaker than females by about 15 percent (see below).

These findings are supported by Adobe’s State of Voice Assistants report that found 37 percent of males and 27 percent of females owned a smart speaker. Also, Adobe discovered that younger people, especially Millennials, were much more likely to buy a speaker than other age groups. 

Smartphone-based voice assistants are much more popular than smart speakers, claims VoiceBot. 58.2 percent of the surveyed sample tried a voice assistant on a smartphone while only 22.9 percent owned a smart speaker. 

Clearly, the use of the voice assistant technology is spreading. What are the reasons behind such popularity? Let’s find out.

Why Voice?

One could think of many reasons for using voice assistants in everyday life. For example, the aforementioned VoiceBot report illustrates some of the top common uses.

As you can see, people use voice assistants to complete a number of different tasks that help them run their daily errands. Using voice assistance devices makes perfect sense because it’s quicker and more user-friendly than typing.

Let’s dig a little bit deeper by asking what makes voice so helpful in the eyes of users. Think about this: Are they excited about the speed at which they can accomplish their routine tasks thanks to voice-enabled technology? Or maybe they’re excited they can complete a daily task such as checking traffic on the way to work without even lifting a finger? Or, what’s the chance people think the technology is super cool and is the future of interaction between a device and a human?

Due to the rapidly increasing use of voice technology today, it’s safe to assume people are very excited about the possibilities delivered by it. So, the chance is pretty high they perceive it as super cool and something they would use every day.

“So, one could claim that the biggest reason behind the popularity of voice-first devices is the unmatched user experience delivered by the voice recognition technology,” says Jack Martinson, a marketing director at TopWritersReview. “It may be the key to making the interaction between a device and a human more natural and easier to the latter and drive the mass adoption.”

Think about it: a voice-enabled assistant has a more intuitive, anthropomorphic interface that does a great job at understanding human speech features and responding in a way that makes users feel like they’re having a conversation with another human. 

To us humans, this is priceless. No wonder legitimate research bodies predict that 50 percent of all web searches will be done with voice by 2020. That’s less than two years away!

The Future of Voice Assistants

It’s pretty safe to assume voice assistants will achieve more popularity in the next years. While the technology still has a long way to go to deliver super smart assistants, it’s clear it’s no longer the joke it used to be when it was launched. Moreover, with the rise of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), they’ll become even more advanced and better at helping their users handle their daily tasks. 

Written by Daniela McVicker, a psychology graduate from Durham University and an editor for Rated By Students.