There are a number of predictions about the evolution of mobile applications and what design principles will guide them. One that is getting a lot of attention lately is the addition of voice to individual applications rather than just as a “virtual assistant” (VA). Up until now most of the attention in app use has been on the swipe but as the technology evolves more are considering giving their applications a voice and letting you control them with yours.
Amazon’s support of Apple’s VoiceOver reading and navigation feature for blind and visually challenged users allows e-books to automatically read the words on the page. They also acquired IVONA Software providing the Kindle with text to speech and other voice activated features.
Of course more and more companies are building unique versions of the popular IPhone VA SIRI, some designing them with a specific business focus or need. But “voice-controlled computing” is gaining steam among business end-users with a Forrester Research report in July reporting that 37% of information workers are now using some form of voice control.
They are not just using the assistant features either, although that is a big part of it for professionals on the go. 56% of those polled indicated they used voice recognition to send texts, 46% used it for search and 40% to seek directions. Some 38% used their devices for recording notes, much like they would have use a tape recorder in the dark ages. Soon those notes will be easily translated to text via voice recognition and available without having to transcribe them via a keyboard.
Don’t think that PCs are being left out either as chip maker Intel is working on a new chip for the specific purpose of supporting voice enabled software applications. They plan to begin putting them in computers planned for release in 2014. For Intel this is as much aimed at increasing market penetration into countries with lower literacy rates but increasing technical needs, hopefully driving up PC and hybrid PC/Tablet use in these countries.
Intel launched its fourth generation Core processors earlier this year, which according to the chip maker deliver 50 percent improvement in battery life, translating to over nine hours in some systems, and also enable a range of 2-in-1 convertible devices that can act as both a tablet and a PC.
Commenting on the project Intel Technology India’s South Asia Director of Marketing and Market Development stated, “We will continue to move full steam ahead into the tablet and 2-in-1 space. Touch it, type on it, or talk to it – these devices are multitasking powerhouses that will offer us new interaction possibilities”.
Unlike traditional software development the focus will be on developing thousands of apps along the way not just single pieces of software that do multiple tasks. Mobile apps tend to be single purpose and more are being developed with business productivity in mind. Understanding both the context of use and whether or not voice recognition or control features will provide greater adoption or productivity will help you to decide what application development route you must take.
Your best bet will be to confer with experts in the field of application development, both for desktop and mobile use. Each platform, desktop or mobile, has its own context and top-notch developers will provide you with insights on how to develop your applications to fit both the mobile and desktop environments. As the reality of building more apps and servicing more devices becomes critical for your organization’s long term success it always pays to gain expert insight.
Nonetheless, in 2014 SIRI is going to have a lot of company as an increasing number of apps are given a voice.