With the recent announcement of Apple AirPods and Google Pixel — as well as Google Home – voice has finally entered the consumer mainstream, at long last.
Apple struck first on September 7th with its announcement of the next generation of Siri on iPhone 7 and iOS10. This announcement included the new Apple AirPods, which enable Siri purely through voice. Then, on October 4th, Google unveiled Pixel and Google Home, the former the highly anticipated smartphone built exclusively by Google. Pixel features the first true Google voice service, Google Assistant — built into firmware just like Siri. Meanwhile, Google Home is a new competitor to the Amazon Echo with Alexa. It too includes Google Assistant.
Although Google and Apple’s voice interfaces have been around for years, Amazon, with its Amazon Echo, was the first tech giant with a true voice interface. It proved that voice interfaces could be used every day by millions of families and individuals. It was the success of Echo that forced Google and Apple to improve their own voice interfaces and respond with their own proprietary mainstream products.
This is great news, because these voice products promise to also enhance user input on smartphones, which are notoriously difficult to type on and enter information into tiny form boxes. Voice will change this in a big way. Indeed, it is already starting to do so with dictation-like features such as Google Speech to Text.
Voice also makes it faster and easier to input and edit content in such text-oriented content as Google docs, text messages, and search. We say ‘faster’ because human beings typically speak 150 words per minute compared to typing at an average of 40 wpm. Noted venture capitalist Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, calls voice “the most efficient form of computing input”.
While voice currently is being primarily leveraged for personal applications such as ordering items, searching, and playing music, the first business use applications are now beginning to emerge. For example, Synqq is transforming the capture and sharing of information vital to business interactions (including meetings and one-on-one contacts) using voice, text, image and video features on a smartphone or browser. With the addition of voice, Synqq only gets better, letting the user create calendar and ad hoc events, and notes. Even better, the user can record the audio for any meeting or encounter and then automatically transcribe it into a text note. With voice as a primary interface, Synqq now makes successful meetings – and their follow-up, faster and more productive than ever before.