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How to Add Voice to Your Mobile App

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Voice-recognition services gained huge popularity and changed our life greatly. We no longer depend on touchscreens of our devices and can enjoy their numerous functions hands-free. It is easier than ever to manage a device using built-in voice assistant. 

Everyone knows about such famous and successful examples as Siri for iOS devices and Google Assistant for Android ones. Even the biggest e-commerce store Amazon implemented its own voice assistant Alexa, and such giant as Microsoft Corporation added Cortana to Windows. You’ve probably heard a lot about one more bright example of masterful technology combination which is the robot called Sophia.  It is a complex invention that is, in fact, an AI with implemented voice-recognition option. We assume that this is just the beginning of absolutely new epoch in technology sphere which is going to change both the digital and real world. 

Voice over apps are going to conquer the market and become our inevitable future. This will happen because more and more people prefer to manage search requests using their voice instead of wasting time on typing the phrases into the search bar. If you still have doubts, let the numbers speak for themselves. Let’s take a look at voice search statistics, discover what makes this technology so brilliant and find out which industries will benefit from voice over app development. 

What statistics says

A global research company Gartner claims in their article will use a voice assistant at least once a month. Voice search will allow companies to collect more useful information about customers and their preferences and hence provide better services.

ComScore, American analytics company, claims that almost 50% of all search queries will be performed using voice instead of keyboards by 2020. This is a totally understandable user choice, as our current way of living requires fast and effortless solutions. 

Social Media Today even performed holistic research and put together 100+ fun and interesting facts about voice search. Their team discovered that around 52% of people prefer searching for goods online using voice and the same percentage of drivers benefit regularly from the opportunity allowing to use the device and search for the necessary information hands-free. Also they state that men tend to refuse from typing search requests and use voice commands more often than women. 

All these and many other trends that have to do with voice-recognition services can become a starting point for massive changes in all spheres of life. People will likely choose the web and mobile solutions that can be managed by voice, so all business owners and sturtupers should be responsive to this tendency and try implementing the demanded features. 

Can touch be replaced by voice? 

Digging in numerous sources and comparing various statistics, we could not help but wonder whether voice technology can become a real substitute for a touch one. Although the voice options makes our life easier, the old but gold touch cannot be excluded or replaced. There are many situations when you simply cannot use your voice to manage the device or app. Below are three examples of common situations that can help us prove our point.

  • Voice would not be effective if you need to enter your login details and password. Usually passwords may contain special symbols, uppercase letters, numbers and therefore it would be problematic to say the necessary command and describe everything to your device. 
  • Voice cannot be used if you are present at important meeting or if you are in a library or other public place that implies silence. In this case it will be much easier to use text commands and manage apps with touch. 
  • Touch is more preferable if your need to sort your mail or write an important letter or document. Voice control is great but it can lead to some inaccuracies. 

Key advantages of voice technology

Once apps with voice control option appeared on the digital market, they almost instantly got users’ acclaim due to the multitasking opportunity they offered. Here is a short list of main pros that make voice over apps unquestionably unique and convenient: 

  • They save your time. If we ask you what you would do faster – type a phrase or say it, the latter would definitely be your answer. Modern speech recognition technology manages to catch and process a spoken phrase extremely fast so that the app can react to your words instantly. 
  • They require less physical actions. If you are a driver or a person whose hands are always busy with some work or carrying luggage, you would appreciate the advantages of voice technology. Now the apps can be managed hands-free and you can focus your attention not on the device screen but on other objects around. 
  • They are more easy-to-use. Everyone knows how easy it is to waste a lot of time searching for the necessary item in a bunch of folders, how endless the search of a necessary contact in the list can be. And all these and many other issues can be easily avoided due to the voice technology. 
  • They can be fun. Pew Research Center made a survey and concluded that one in five Americans use voice assistant on their devices because it is rather fun communicating with it. 
  • They are multilingual and cross-platform. Voice assistant can be found on both iOS and Android devices and it understands many different languages. As Google states on its blogour goal has been to bring the Assistant to as many people, languages, and locations as possible”.

Business niches that need voice over apps 

We use apps for everything. In one device we have our own book, video and music library, banking and trip organizing assistant. We work and entertain ourselves using the apps. So it is obvious that voice over technology should be implemented in many business niches including the following ones:  

  1. Healthcare. Physically disabled and especially visually challenged people can benefit from using apps with voice control. Such technology grants them hands-free access to all necessary device options. Healthcare industry is rather huge and includes such sub-spheres as fitness, nutrition, and psychology. And each of them may need high-quality voice over apps for different purposes.
  2. Education. Learning is a complex process which requires many techniques to be applied. Therefore if you consider building your own educational platform, you should definitely add voice options like search, messaging, making notes, etc. Many students and teachers would definitely choose interacting instead of common texting. 
  3. Traveling. When you are abroad it is sometimes difficult to get over the language barrier and communicate with locals. So various translation apps that are able to perform voice recognition and generation can be of a great use. Speech-to-speech translation apps are not only gaining huge popularity buy also get more advanced each year. 
  4. Social media. World has never been so attached to social media as it is now. Every day we use a certain social platform to exchange messages, read public pages and leave comments. So why not use voice for all these purposes? Voice messages already became extremely popular and are widely used by all generations. 

How to build voice over app

As of now to successfully adopt voice technology to your business you need to choose necessary deployment model and use essential third-party SDK. There are two possible deployment models that can be used – cloud and embedded. 

Cloud is probably the most convenient way if you would like to implement speech-to-speech conversations and voice recognition. All these processes will be set in cloud and the space on your device will not be overloaded. However, you should remember that cloud requires an Internet connection which is not always can be established. 

Embedded model on the contrary can be used in off-line mode since it is located on your device. The main advantage is that you will not feel any app delays as it does not depend on any server. However, embedded model implies that you need a lot of free space on your phone or tablet because all audio elements will be stored locally on your device. 

Among SDKs you can find several available options and therefore you may face certain difficulties while choosing which is the exact one you need. Your choice should depend directly on your purpose and project: 

  • Google Cloud Text-to-Speech API. It allows to perform high-quality conversion of a text to speech and supports 120 languages alongside with 100 voices. 
  • Siri Shortcuts. Using this feature you can easily create shortcuts and add your custom voice commands for the frequently used options on your device. 
  • Amazon Transcribe. Although it supports only English and Spanish, this tool lets you perform conversion of speech to text and detection of various speakers. 
  • Nuance. A unique cross-platform voice libraries provider that works with 40+ languages and offers great voice recognition services. 
  • Azure Speech API. It is a project of Microsoft Corporation that performs  speech to text and reverse conversion.

FAQ 

It is a service allowing to control a certain application using voice commands. Voice assistant uses voice recognition, NLP and synthesis of speech.
There are text dependent and text independent systems. First ones require users to say a pass phrase (predetermined word combination), while the latter ones recognize a person without any mandatory phrase.
Apps with voice recognition allow users to access certain options and perform actions within the app hands-free (one can do something like writing or editing text, talking to mobile assistant, etc.).

Final thoughts

Voice is the most natural thing that lets us perform fast information exchange and set necessary level of communication. And although voice technology still has its challenges (like inability to recognize certain accents, limited number of supported languages, delays of real-time response), it is improving and it has a potential to attract more users in the future. Therefore it can be said without doubt that investing in voice over app development is a wise choice.

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