How Do People Use Virtual Assistants on Their Smartphones? - eMarketer

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How Do People Use Virtual Assistants on Their Smartphones?

Usage varies by generation

February 17, 2017

Many smartphone users are regularly searching for information through voice commands with virtual assistants such as Google Now, Siri, Cortana and Alexa. New research looked at how often US smartphone users are employing smartphone virtual assistants, why and when they’re using them, which services they’re using and what they’re commonly searching for.

A January 2017 survey of US smartphone users from HigherVisibility found that a significant share (28.7%) of respondents still do not use smartphone virtual assistants. However, nearly 27% of those polled use voice search assistants once a week or more, and about 22% use them daily.

Frequency with Which US Smartphone Users Use Smartphone Virtual Assistants for Search, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

When HigherVisibility asked respondents why they use smartphone virtual assistants for search, about one in three said they do so because it’s easier than searching manually. About one in four did so because they could not type or look at their smartphone or because it’s faster than manual search.

More than half of respondents said they use smartphone virtual assistants while driving—the most common time when users access such services.

Smartphone virtual assistants can be used for an infinite number of reasons, but there are some search requests that tend to be more popular with users.

Some of the more customary search queries conducted via these assistants include requests to play music, manage alarms, find a weather forecast, search for a contact’s phone number or ask a fun question.

Top 10 Smartphone Virtual Assistant Search Queries/Requests According to US Smartphone Users, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

HigherVisibility found that different generations of smartphone users used virtual assistants for different reasons.

Millennials were most likely to manage alarms, play music, play audiobooks and search for movie times.

Gen Xers were most likely to look up someone’s phone number, search for a song playing on the radio, create a shopping list and check news headlines.

Baby boomers tended to use smartphone virtual assistants to play voicemail messages, look up measurement conversions, search calendar events and discover recipes.

There are a number of virtual assistants available to smartphone users, but because Android and iPhones come equipped with their respective virtual assistants—Google Now and Siri—these two programs account for about 92% of all smartphone virtual assistants that smartphone users have on their devices, according to HigherVisibility.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the ones that are most frequently used. While less than 2% of respondents said they had Amazon’s Alexa on their smartphone, 37.1% said they use it at least daily, compared with just over a fifth who said the same of Google Now and Siri.

Alison McCarthy

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