Why Mobile Apps Need Voice Interfaces :: UXmatters

  • Voice interactions are more convenient. People often need to use their phone when their hands are full—when cooking, driving, carrying a suitcase, and in many more daily situations. Voice is already playing a significant role in assisting people with limited vision. Most of the time, voice interactions are simply quicker. Consider this: ordering a ticket by saying “Get me plane tickets to London for tomorrow, for two” is much faster than filling out endless forms and perhaps having to fill out a form again after missing something small the first time around. Being able to ask clarification questions makes voice interactions even faster. For example, “Morning or evening?” or “Will you have any luggage?” Plus, voice can be handy in form-filling scenarios, especially for long forms that require users to provide a lot of information, which seems to be a type of form that almost every mobile app requires.
  • Voice technology is multilingual. Whoever your app’s target users are, make sure you speak their language. Internet users across the globe prefer to browse a Web site in their native language. Therefore, if you plan to expand your global presence in your marketplace, creating a multilingual user interface or assistant is the best option available to you. Building a multilingual app directly impacts downloads and usage. In fact, your conversion rates could easily double because a multilingual app helps you reach more people and increases awareness of your brand.
  • Voice lets you reach a broader audience. Using mobile voice search, users can describe objects, items, and the app itself in terms of their specific features. This brings us back to those long-tail keywords. By creating conversational content for these keywords, you have a better chance of reaching your target audience and driving the right traffic to your mobile app.
  • Voice is indispensable for older adults and people with disabilities. Voice makes it possible for all groups of people—especially older adults—to keep up with life’s rhythm. Such people might find it hard to type—or even find technology generally confusing—but voice commands can make using apps much easier. Whether they’re using apps for planning diaries, reminders, information access, or contact with family members, voice assistants can help them with their everyday routines—making sure they stay physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy.

Plus, there are many new avenues that mobile-app developers could explore by adding voice capabilities, such as the following:

  • expanding the boundaries of mobile apps
  • adding functionality
  • using data analysis to improve the user experience
  • promoting your brand
  • achieving significant competitive advantage
  • improving customer satisfaction

How to Integrate Voice into Your Mobile App

To start building voice experiences into your app, you must choose a deployment model, along with a third-party SDK. There are two deployment models available, as follows:

  1. Cloud model—This model is relatively easy to use because all processes live in the cloud, so the voice functionality and data won’t overload a user’s mobile device. However, keep in mind that this model requires a stable Internet connection. If you can’t provide that, you had better use an embedded model.
  2. Embedded model—Users can use these apps in offline mode because the app is on their device. The best thing about this model is that there are no app delays because there is no dependence on a server. On the other hand, this model requires a lot of free space on the user’s mobile device because all audio data is stored locally.

Choose an SDK according to the needs your project addresses. Some of the available options include the following:

  • SAP Conversational AI—This SDK includes the Bot Connector API, which has a standardized messaging format across all channels and lets you connect your bots to any channel in minutes.
  • Google Cloud Text-to-Speech API—This SDK enables developers to synthesize natural-sounding speech using more than 100 voices and is available in 120 languages and variants.
  • Rasa Open Source—Because it is built on Python and has built-in natural-language understanding (NLU), you can use this SDK either as an end-to-end solution or as an NLU server.
  • Aimybox—This is an in-app voice assistant SDK that makes it easy to create a voice assistant and embed it in any application or device, including robots, smart toys, or Raspberry Pi.
  • Aimylogic—This is a platform for natural-language communication for SMBs (small-to-medium businesses). Over 40,000 users have created thousands of skills for voice assistants and chatbots that users can invoke at the touch of a button.
  • JAICF (Just AI Conversational Platform)—This Kotlin-based conversational framework is fully customizable and works with popular voice and text channels such as Amazon Alexa, Google Actions, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and more. This AI framework could be perfect for Android developers, making implementing voice with JAICF as easy as ABC.

As recently as just a couple of years ago, adding voice to a mobile app cost a lot and the process was way too complex. Today, because of the conversational AI market’s growth rate, you can easily find the perfect tool for your project—ranging from simple, no-code builders such as Aimylogic to full-fledged frameworks such as JAICF that are free of charge even for commercial use.

Conclusion

Today, it is imperative that app developers create voice user interfaces that leverage conversational AI for their mobile apps. Creating VUIs can unlock great value for mobile-app developers. Because conversational AI is still a developing market, investing in it could potentially differentiate your mobile app in the marketplace. In this voice-first era, be an organization that brings something new to your mobile apps. 

Thanks to Polina Pirogova of Just AI for providing the hero image for this article.

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