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Personal Assistants Are at Mobile Users' Service

Majority of smartphone users have used a mobile personal assistant

November 4, 2014

“I remember when I was the only phone that talked,” says Apple’s Siri in her TV commercial battle with Microsoft’s Cortana. It’s true: Siri isn’t the only “personal assistant” anymore, with competition from Cortana as well as Google Now. But are consumers actually using this technology? A June 2014 study by Thrive Analytics found that over half of US adult smartphone users (56%) had. Within that group, Siri, the oldest assistant on the block, was used most, at 67% of respondents, followed by Google Now (45%) and Cortana (5%).

US Smartphone Users Who Use Mobile Personal Assistants, by Demographic, June 2014 (% of respondents)

Tech-savvy millennials were the most likely to have used a personal assistant, with 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds reporting doing so. Nearly 60% of those ages 30 to 43 had taken to talking to their phones, and just under 40% of the 44-to-53 and 54-and-older groups were users.

Smartphone users who use mobile personal assistants do so frequently. Four in 10 said they chatted with Siri, Cortana or Google Now at least weekly, and 24% did so daily. And they’re calling on them whether in motion or while relaxing. Despite being known for providing quick information to on-the-go consumers, personal assistants were just as popular when smartphone users were home, with 35% of respondents. Just over three in 10 accessed these as they were on the move, and an additional 28% turned to the voice-powered option while driving.

Primary Location Where US Smartphone Users Use Mobile Personal Assistants, by Age, June 2014 (% of respondents)

At-home personal assistant usage was most common among millennials, who were actually the least likely to turn to them once on the go. Those in the 54-and-older crew, meanwhile, weren’t afraid to call on Siri, Google Now or Cortana in front of a crowd; 41% used personal assistants when out of the house.

September 2014 research by Northstar for Google found even more impressive daily usage for voice search via personal assistants; 55% and 41% of US teen and adult smartphone users conducted the activity daily, respectively.

Ways in Which US Teen vs. Adult Smartphone Users Use Mobile Voice Search, Sep 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

The reasons for turning to personal assistants varied between teens and adults. Those ages 13 to 17 were most likely to use voice search to call someone (43%) or ask for directions (38%)—and they even summoned these resources for homework help. Meanwhile, adults used voice search to ask for directions (40%) and dictate texts (39%).

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