February 7, 2017
“Hey Siri (or Alexa, Google, or Cortana), can you tell me what the weather will be like today?”
Every year, the functionality of voice search assistants evolves. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, stand-alone beacon (like Amazon Echo), or even your refrigerator, these personal AI assistants are here to help in all kinds of ways. From the weekly weather forecast to turning on the lights in your kitchen or ordering a pizza, the opportunities with voice search programs are turning out to be endless.
With growing functionality and increased presence in our smartphones, we wanted to know how many people are regularly using mobile voice search commands, which AI systems are the most popular, and what exactly people are using them to search. Want to know what trends we uncovered? Read on to find out.
There was no clear winner for preference when it came to frequency of using voice-automated search options. In fact, according to the more than 2,000 people surveyed, almost 29 percent said they never use it. Despite household automated search products like Amazon Echo being breakout trends at the 2017 CES show in Las Vegas, some users are still not using mobile voice search, regardless of its upgrades or conveniences.
For some, the value of mobile voice search was a little more apparent. Close to 27 percent of respondents used voice search assistants at least once a week, while about 22 percent used it every single day. As we’ll explore below, usage trends are emerging among different age groups, helping us understand not just who’s using voice search but why.
In asking our 2,000 participants why they chose to use mobile voice search, almost 33 percent thought it was easier than manually searching for answers. Over 26 percent used voice search because they weren’t able to look at their phones. Further, when we asked when they used it, nearly 53 percent of participants said they put voice search to the test when they were driving. Another 21 percent said they used it when they were preoccupied with another activity. For users who take the time to know their integrated voice assistants a little more personally, they can be time savers in the end.
Finally, almost 26 percent said they thought it was faster than using mobile browsers or other resources, while 87 percent thought voice search was accurate.
Many of our users had a voice search assistant built into their smartphones. Depending on which phone manufacturer you’re committed to, you might be more familiar with Google Now or Apple’s Siri. Together, those two programs accounted for over 90 percent of smartphone voice assistants, according to survey respondents. Other less popular assistants included Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s S Voice.
However, when it came to which ones get used the most, Alexa (the digital assistant of Amazon Echo) took the cake. Echo and Alexa have been in the spotlight a lot lately. Over the 2016 holiday season, Amazon and other retail partners could hardly keep the Echo in stock. Then, at the 2017 CES show in Las Vegas, Echo earned critical praise for its evolved home integrations and voice search capabilities. According to our research, around 92 percent of our respondents felt Alexa was accurate, while 93 percent of Cortana users and nearly 91 percent of Google Now users found their voice assistants to be the most accurate. At the bottom was Apple’s Siri – 82 percent of users thought it was the most accurate.
With users capitalizing on moments where they might have otherwise been preoccupied with other tasks (like driving, watching TV, or cooking), the most popular request of voice search services was to play music. Whether you’re in the car and want to hear a certain tune or tidying up around the house and need some music to pass the time – asking that invisible someone in your smartphone to find the perfect tune might be the ultimate convenience.
Speaking of convenience, nearly 13 percent of survey participants used voice search primarily to help them set, cancel, or manage their alarms. Asking Siri or Google to play a catchy song is one thing, but getting them to turn on your alarm when you’re already in bed means not having to get up or double-check that it’s set.
Other popular commands included asking for the weather forecast (12 percent), looking up a contact number, and asking fun questions (9 percent each). Silly questions might seem, well, a bit silly, but where else can you get entertainment like this with no cost?
Not every generation uses voice search the same way. Millennials were more likely to put their personal AI assistants to task with nearly as many common search phrases as Gen Xers and baby boomers combined. Millennial top voice search commands included helping set daily alarms, play music and audiobooks, and look up movie times.
Gen Xers were a little more productive with their voice search requests, commonly asking for help with tasks like looking up phone numbers, identifying songs on the radio, creating shopping lists, and checking news headlines.
Baby boomers had more common searches than Gen Xers, according to our research. In fact, they used voice assistants, like Google Now, Siri, and Alexa, to help them play voicemail messages, look up measurement conversions, and search calendar events. They were also the most likely to spend time playing with built in “Easter eggs” when asking fun questions.
Our research also showed men and women use their voice search programs differently.
It turns out, playing music was a top voice search priority for men and women, but they disagreed on what mattered most after that. While men used voice-controlled commands to set, cancel, and manage their alarms, women used voice command to check the weather before they checked alarms or set a new one.
Looking up a phone number and playing with fun questions like “Which came first: The chicken or the egg?” or “Is Jon Snow really dead?” were fourth- and fifth-place functions.
After that, men and women didn’t agree on much else. Men opted for traffic alerts and calendar events, while women voted for voicemail messages and news headlines when using their integrated voice command software.
The U.S. doesn’t entirely agree with the use of voice search assistants. According to our survey, those in the Midwest were more likely to use voice search – with more than 73 percent of respondents using it at least occasionally in states like Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio.
While the South had only a slightly lower average usage than those in the Northeast, it was states in the West that acknowledged using voice search the least. Despite California and Washington being home to some major tech headquarters, only 69 percent of users from this part of the U.S. put voice search to work for them.
There’s no doubt that both the functionality and popularity of voice search are growing. Over 70 percent of those surveyed used voice search at least once per month, and nearly half used it weekly or daily.
While search assistants are changing the way we play music or set alarms, they’re also changing the way we search for localized requests, like businesses or restaurants. Millennials, especially, were more likely to use voice search assistants to help them interact with the outside world by looking up movie times, traffic updates, and local businesses.
With this being the next frontier, you should ask your SEO services provider what they have planned for your website.
We surveyed 2,017 mobile phone users in the U.S. about mobile voice search.
Want to know how to properly share our content with your readers? You don’t need to ask Siri or Cortana. Just make sure to link them back to this page.
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