“Voice Search” is a term used for both voice-enabled search to retrieve information and find phrases in audio files. The first one is also known as “Search by Voice”.
What’s Search by Voice?
Google Search Engine introduced the Search by Voice feature for the web a decade ago, but since then it’s only available for the Google Chrome browser. To use Search by Voice, a user clicks on the microphone icon, the push-to-talk button, and instead of typing the search keyword or phrase, they can dictate the keyword.
Search by Voice Adoption in Numbers
The user adoption of voice, considering the benefits such as speed, ability to multitask, and convenience, especially on small screens such as mobile phones, is not surprising. Users can speak 3 times faster than they type, and can filter for products such as “Red Women Sneakers Size 10” much easier than they touch on four different filter boxes correctly.
Search by voice application limitations
Despite the convenience of voice for mobile and web applications, voice search has gained popularity with voice assistants such as Alexa, Hey Siri and OK Google integrated into smart speakers and mobile phones. It’s mainly because these voice assistants have been the only option that offers a truly hands-free voice experience. Even the Google search engine for Chrome doesn’t support a wake word. Users need to click on the push-to-talk button.
For example, to perform a Google voice search on the Chrome browser, you have to open a new tab, click on the Search by Voice icon and then utter what you’re looking for: “weather in Vancouver”. With this Voice AI Browser Extension demo Picovoice shows that Search by Voice can be truly hands-free.
Some solutions that offer hold-to-talk buttons, which require users to hold the button throughout the search query or input, make it even less convenient, especially when you think of a salesperson adding notes on CRM while going to another meeting.
Search by voice support limitations
Another limitation, that hinders the adoption of voice search on the web and mobile applications, is limited platform support. It makes developers’ lives difficult and requires enterprises to allocate more resources to voice projects. A user may access a web or mobile application through Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Android or iOS, and expects the same experience. However, adding voice to these different platforms requires the use of multiple SDKs or APIs, hence more developer time.
Picovoice Angular, React, Vue SDKs for web and Android, Flutter, iOS and React Native SDKs for mobile enable developers to build voice products with their favourite SDKs and shorten time-to-market significantly.