People are embracing voice technology for more than just contactless interactions, but they’re also confused about how to use it. That’s according to Adobe’s 2020 Voice Survey, which was released today. The survey asked 1,000 voice technology users in the U.S. about their experiences and behaviors with AI assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana.

The pandemic created a need for sanitary alternatives to day-to-day tasks involving touch, and Adobe’s survey reflects this. One in three voice users (31%) counts benefits like not needing to touch high-traffic surfaces as an upside of voice technology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents said they’d be open to leveraging voice technology for tasks that currently involve touch. Half of respondents said they wanted to see voice technology used at events and businesses for tasks like opening a door (56%), choosing a floor on the elevator (55%), or using a vending machine (49%). Separately, 86% of people said voice technology could make visiting businesses or attending events more sanitary.

People also reported using voice technology for simple day-to-day tasks, like maps or driving (52%), texting or chat (51%), and music (46%). That could be because the majority of users (57%) think voice assistants stand to improve with regard to accuracy. A higher percentage (62%) feel awkward using voice technology when other people are present.

In comparison to Adobe’s 2019 survey, the number of users who claim they don’t know how to accomplish tasks with voice technology went up by 14%. Additionally, 39% of people said they had used voice technology for the first time in the past year, and 49% of users predicted that voice technology will better meet their needs by 2025 as it continues to develop.

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Adobe’s findings track with a recent survey by Voicebot that found 87.7 million U.S. adults were using smart speakers as of January 2020. This means the installed base of U.S. smart speaker users was up 32% from January 2019 and was 85% higher than in January 2018.

The pandemic appears to have supercharged voice app usage, which was already on an upswing. According to a study by NPR and Edison Research, the percentage of voice-enabled device owners who use commands at least once a day rose between the beginning of 2020 and the start of April. Just over a third of smart speaker owners say they listen to more music, entertainment, and news from their devices than they did before, and owners report requesting an average of 10.8 tasks per week from their assistant this year, compared with 9.4 different tasks in 2019. According to a new report from Juniper Research, consumers will interact with voice assistants on 8.4 billion devices by 2024.


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