Virtual personal assistants to account for 20% of smartphone interactions by 2019
Virtual personal assistants (or VPAs) are getting better and better. We have seen some big improvements in this area over the past few years and the increased utility of this technology may entirely change the way we interact with our smart devices in the future.
Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2019, 20% of all user interactions with their smartphones will be conducted via virtual personal assistants. The company bases this prognosis on its annual mobile apps survey, which was conducted in Q4 2016 across three major markets (U.S.A., U.K. And China) with over 3,000 participants.
The survey reveals that on average, more than 37% of respondents across the U.S. and U.K. used a VPA at least once per day. Google Now and Apple's Siri were unsurprisingly the most used apps of this nature among participants across the two countries, with the former being used at least once in the last three months by 44.5% of respondents and the latter by 54%. In China, things are moving even faster, as the massive influence of messaging platforms is leading to a stall in the traditional app market.
Annette Zimmermann, a research director at Gartner, commented on the results:
The role of interactions will intensify through the growing popularity of VPAs among smartphone users and conversations made with smart machines... We expect AI, machine learning and VPAs to be one of the major strategic battlegrounds from 2017 onwards, and make many mobile apps fade and become subservants of VPAs
The company also reminds us that voice commands are not the only way to interact with virtual personal assistants, citing Facebook's Messenger as an app which enables users to do things such as interacting with businesses to make purchases and ordering Uber cars without the need for separate, dedicated apps for each service.
Gartner also makes the estimation that by 2020 there will be an installed base of around 7 billion personal devices, consisting of 1.3 billion wearables and 5.7 billion Internet of Things, with the majority of them being designed to work with minimal or zero touch.
Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner
Interactions will move away from touchscreens and will increasingly make use of voice, ambient technology, biometrics, movement and gestures... In this situation, apps using contextual information will become a crucial factor in user acceptance, as a voice-driven system's usability increases dramatically according to how much it knows about the user's surrounding environment. This is where device vendors' assets or partnerships in VPAs, natural language processing (NLP) and deep machine learning experts will matter.
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