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October 14, 2014

Voice Search Increasingly Popular with Teens, Adults

Voice-activated controls for PCs and the like has been something of a futuristic notion since it was advanced by things like “Star Trek”; the idea of simply telling a computer what was needed or desired and having the computer actually carry out the task sounded like a great idea to anyone who saw it take place, and so, voice search has really caught on. A new study from Google, meanwhile, shows just how extensively this concept has caught on, and some unexpected places where it's proving popular.

The Google study in question, titled the Mobile Voice Study, examined the habits of smartphone users with a particular focus on voice search, and made some noteworthy discoveries. First, voice search isn't particularly limited by age group. The study found that, for 13 to 18 year olds, voice search was a daily part of operations by 55 percent of the group, and 56 percent of adults said that using voice search made same feel “tech-savvy.” Thirty-eight percent of users in both age groups, meanwhile, favored voice search while watching television, and 41 percent of users wished that voice search could be used to help same find the remote control.

Meanwhile, the sheer array of uses for voice search functions only climbs from here. A variety of uses were revealed by the study, including 40 percent of respondents who turned to voice search for directions. Almost as many—39 percent—dictated text messages with voice search tools, and 32 percent used it to make phones calls. 27 percent used voice search to check the weather. 23 percent of adults, meanwhile, favored voice search for cooking, and 32 percent of adults just used it for fun. 51 percent of teens, meanwhile, found it entertaining as well.

For teenagers who put more than 11 hours a day on smartphones, voice search is put to work 75 percent of the time, and for the most part, without concern about image. Though there are some concerned about the appearance of telling a phone what to do; 45 percent of adults felt “...like a geek” when issuing voice commands to a smartphone, and an almost equal concentration of teens and adults believed that voice search would be “very common” in the future, with 89 percent of teens agreeing, and 85 percent of adults agreeing. Americans also turn to voice search as a multitasking tool, even to the point where 22 percent of teenagers use voice search while in the bathroom. As for future plans, 45 percent wish that voice search could be directly connected to pizza delivery, and while adults preferred the phone to tell same where a set of keys was currently located, “send me a pizza” was popular for better than a third of adults at 36 percent.

With these points in mind, there are likely already a couple of apps in the works to get pizza out to hungry voice search users, though at last report there were already some simple methods to track lost keys related to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications measures and the use of simple key chain tags. It's also something of a self-fulfilling prophecy that voice search will be big in the future given the number of teenagers using it currently that will become adults in the imminent future. But it's likewise clear that voice search is becoming a widely-accepted alternative in search. While only time will tell just what uses of voice search appear, such uses will likely continue to be a part of the landscape for some time to come.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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