- Vlingo has handled over 430,000,000 voice actions since launching its first app in 2008
- Over the last three plus years, we have learned a great deal about how, why and where people use voice assisted services
As a pioneer in mobile voice, Vlingo has amassed a great deal of data about how people use and interact with voice technology. By the end of this month, we will have handled more than 430,000,000 total voice actions since our BlackBerry app launched in June 2008. What’s even more amazing is that we’ve already completed more actions this year than we did in 2010. No question that people are finding voice assisted services increasingly useful to their everyday lives as smartphones, tablets, in vehicle systems and other connected devices become engrained in our routines.
As WWDC kicks off, and voice expects to take center stage, we wanted to share some of the insights we’ve gathered over the years. Perhaps a look back will tell us a little bit about what’s ahead.
The most appealing aspect of voice assisted services is that it makes doing things easier. Smartphone owners who use voice regularly actually do more than a typical smartphone user. There is a clear link between the need to multitask and the additional functionality voice enables. Even for activities that were popular before voice recognition, the ability to do them faster and in situations where it isn’t convenient to type means users do them more often. Check out the chart (1) below, which looks at how smarthphone owners who typically use voice assisted services compare to the general smartphone population. (2)
(1) In this chart 100 percent represents a typical smartphone user on iPhone and Android. The bars illustrate how activity compares for those who regularly use voice assisted services.
(2) Data collected from a survey of over 600 current and former Vlingo users, November 2010.
Even for REALLY popular things like messaging, which 91 percent of all smartphone owners did at the end of 2010 (according to Comscore), and Search (87 percent via Comscore), voice helps you do a little bit more. The sum effect is that users have more time and feel empowered to engage in more advanced activities like shopping. Effectively, voice empowers users to multitask better.
Looking into exactly what voice assisted services people use most, the three most popular activities, search (web and local), voice dialing and messaging (sms and email), account for the majority of usage across both Android (91 percent) and iPhone (98 percent). Some of the variability is due to feature availability – turn by turn navigation and Vlingo Answers are not yet available for iPhone – but across shared functionality there is still a meaningful difference, highlighting the preferences of each platform’s users. (3)
(3) June 2011 usage data
While social usage remains small comparatively, it is growing in popularity along with social services in general. Taking a deeper look at exactly how Android owners are using voice to interact with social networks (4) provides a look into how more activity will be initiated in the near future.
(4) June 2011 usage data
Not surprisingly, most people have found voice technology most useful when they’re out on the go – either while driving or when walking around in public. Still, over 1/3 of the usage has come from people in their office or at home. This tackles the myth that voice only enables activity as a fill-in when users can’t use conventional means to access information and services. Even when users are in a place where they have access to the fixed web, many times they actually prefer to use mobile voice technology because it helps them get things done faster or easier than through traditional channels. (5)
(5) June 2011 usage data
Historically, Vlingo has seen users fall into three distinct profiles (6), each using voice assisted services in a slightly different way.
The Practical Multitasker – This group makes up the largest pool of voice users, about 30 percent of the total. They tend to be professionals in their mid-thirties or older, and are often commuters with families. They were big BlackBerry fans for years, but have recently begun to switch over to Android. Being commuters, they are the heaviest users of truly handsfree functionality, like Vlingo’s InCar and SafeReader features. While they focus on a small subset of voice assisted services, they use them regularly as part of their daily routines.
The Classic Tech Enthusiast – These people tend to be a little younger than the Multitaskers, between 18-44, and are typically men. We’ve seen most of our beta testers come from this group, and they’re always eager to try the latest voice enabled features. While all types of smartphones are represented here, Android has made up the majority the last 6-9 months. They’re very active on their phones in general, and frequently use both the handsfree functionality and the more advanced tasks like booking tickets or reservations.
The Social Shopper – These individuals want to stay continuously connected to their friends and family, and find voice empowers them to do so easier, and in more places. They love using voice to update Facebook and Twitter, and locate friends through foursquare. This is the youngest group that has tried voice assisted services, with many under the age of 25. The iPhone is the device of choice, and these users are more than twice as likely to use voice assisted services to book reservations, buy tickets or download apps and music.