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Teens Embrace Voice Search, Many Adults Feel “Like Geeks” Using It

Teens Embrace Voice Search, Many Adults Feel “Like Geeks” Using It

According to a voice search study commissioned by Google, the most smartphone-obsessed teens are using voice search every day. However many adults feel self-conscious or embarrassed when they talk to their smartphones.

The study found that 45 percent of US adults said they felt “like a geek” talking to their phones. (Yet this is what one does with a phone.)

The Mobile Voice Study, conducted by Northstar Research, polled 1,400 Americans over the age of 13 about their attitudes and usage of voice search. The study was not limited to experiences with Google.

Most of the findings released showed generally positive attitudes toward voice search. The press release and accompanying infographic emphasize the fun, playful dimension of speech on smartphones (22 percent of teens use it in the bathroom, etc.). However I suspect there are more “substantive” findings lurking somewhere that haven’t been fully released.

Among the publicly released data, the study reported that 55 percent of those under 18 years old use voice search daily. That number grows to 75 percent for those who are on their phones 11 or more hours per day.

Below are some additional data from the survey:

  • 40 percent use voice search to ask for directions
  • 39 percent dictate text messages with voice
  • 32 percent initiate phone calls using voice commands
  • 50 percent of Northeasterners use voice search at least once per day

The survey also asked respondents to pick something “you wish you could ask your phone to do for you.” Nearly half (45 percent) said “send me a pizza.” This is another “fun” finding. However it illustrates the desire to be able to complete tasks and conduct transactions rather than merely cull through blue links in a conventional page of results.

Google has been trying to adapt the search experience to the very different demands and expectations of mobile users. In turn this has resulted in many of the UI/UX changes that Google’s critics have complained about in Europe in particular (cards, “answers”).

Google has invested very heavily in speech recognition and voice search capabilities (and more recently “conversational search”) to keep mobile users engaged. Indeed, in the absence of voice search capabilities on Android, and to a lesser degree the iPhone, Google would probably be seeing many fewer mobile queries.

Stone Temple Consulting recently released a study comparing the performance of Google, Siri and Cortana (with voice query input). It found that overall Google outperformed the others in providing direct answers to questions.

Also see our related story at Marketing Land that covers more of the stats from the study: Infographic: Google Study Finds Voice Search Most Used To Ask For Directions.