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The ultimate resource in the voice space. Conversational interfaces, voice interfaces, smart speakers and smart assistants, voice strategy, audio branding.

Branding in voice is brand’s biggest challenge for the next years

Branding in voice needs to be respectful of the user. The key will be to bring branding in a way that is seamless to the user experience. You need to be careful about when to do branding in voice and know where to cut off. You don’t want to interrupt in the middle of a sentence.

The context the user is in it’s relevant as well, what works in one platform might not work in the other. If you are promoting in Google Assistant vs your own app, the considerations are different since those are not technically your users, in the sense that you don’t know how they landed in your action.

Considering a voice strategy and branding in voice will become more and more relevant as consumers get used to talking to their devices and expect to have conversations with almost every electronic thing. Voice will be the biggest challenge for brands since they have to go on the internet. As the number of users using smart speakers from their phones grows, the first thing you can do is integrate voice into your mobile app or chatbot in your website. Apple will be releasing Shortcuts in September, a way to integrate with Siri and Google is said to launch App Actions, a way to customize the current Android applications to be available in the actions store. The other strategy you can deploy is creating content for the home environment. The smart assistants preferred place today is our homes. Meet your users where they are integrating content related to the activities that are typically done at the house. And above everything, please don’t underestimate the impact voice will have in branding.

Our Twitter handle is voicefirstlabs and we are voicefirstweekly in Instagram, shout us a comment there to let me know what you think or anything else really, I love to interact about this space. My name is Mari, I’m will talk to you tomorrow.

VentureBeat wrote a piece on why branding is hard in voice, check it out. This is another good piece on how brands can benefit from voice technologies.

And this is our briefing on how App Actions work.

Thank you for listening, you have a great day and we’ll talk tomorrow!

5 Insights of voice technologies

Scott Huffman, Google Assistant VP of Engineering, wrote an article outlining the 5 insights of voice technology they have gathered since launching Google Assistant 2 years ago.

Here they are, for you today, commented by me.

Number 1. Voice is about action. Assistant queries are 40 times more likely to be action-oriented than Search, with people asking for things like “send a text message,” “turn off the lights,” or “turn on airplane mode.”

As Ursule LeGuin put its beautifully: When you speak a word to a listener, the speaking is an act.

And this is what actually makes this technology unique: it allows to complete a task in a natural way.

Number 2 People expect conversations. For voice assistants, according to Huffman, people start querying in a command like way, but expectations go up pretty quickly, they expect conversations. On average, Assistant queries are 200 times more conversational than Search. Simple commands can take thousands forms. For example, people ask the Google Assistant to set an alarm in more than 5,000 different ways, which means that they have to build the Assistant to understand this conversational complexity.  

Number 3 Screen changes everything. Nearly half of interactions with Assistant today include both voice and touch input. Screens bring a completely new canvas for conversational AI, where we can bring together voice and touch in an intelligent way.

Number 4 Daily routines matter. Where and how people use the Assistant varies throughout the day, but the consistency of the experience should stay the same. As I have said before, in voice applications not content, but context is king. As you look at the patterns of the daily routines of users in Google Assistant, their activities varies depending on the time of the day.

Number 5 Voice is universal. Because the entry point for voice is so low, it can be used by people across devices, languages and geographies. According to Huffman they have seen that Google Assistant users defy the early adopter stereotype: there’s a huge uptick in seniors and families, and women are the fastest growing user segment for the Assistant.


Voice space is new and we are still learning what works. However, the clear case for jobs done, for everyone of the technology is encouraging.

Our Twitter handle is voicefirstlabs and we are voicefirstweekly in Instagram, shut us a comment there to let me know what you think or anything else really, I love to interact about this space. My name is Mari, I’m will talk to you tomorrow.

This week in smart devices

Two recent relevant news in smart devices.
Saint Louis University is placing 2300 Echo dots in student living spaces.
Saint Louis University has announced that it will be placing Amazon Echo Dot devices, powered by Alexa for Business, in every student residence hall room or student apartment on campus. While other colleges, like Arizona State University, have put Echo Dots in student housing before, SLU says this is the first time a college will equip every student living space with an Amazon Alexa-enabled device.
The smart speaker race is heating up
The Statista website published an infographic with an analysis of the second quarter of 2018 smart speaker market.
The smart speaker market continues to grow, with global shipments tripling from 3.9 million units in the second quarter of last year to 11.7 million units in this year’s June quarter. Competitors slowly are eating away at Amazon’s once dominant lead. Google has gained some ground growing its market share from 16.1 percent in the second quarter of 2017 to 27.6 percent in Q2 2018. Chinese’s Alibaba is commanding Asia’s smart speaker market with a global 7 % in shipments.
And Baidu DuerOS is available in 100 million devices.
Will Facebook release another device before the year ends? The race is hot!

Our Twitter handle is voicefirstlabs and we are voicefirstweekly in Instagram, shut us a comment there to let me know what you think or anything else really, I love to interact about this space. My name is Mari, I’m will talk to you tomorrow.

Voice space fragmentation

The rumours/news of Facebook Messenger’s and Instagram voice input features plus Samsung Bixby announcement got me thinking about how quickly the voice space is diversifying. Currently at our company we are working with applications for Alexa, Google Home, a chatbot and we started experimenting with Bixby after being invited to develop capsules. And the only reason we are not trying Baidu DuerOS is because the documentation is in Chinese and my French doesn’t get that far away. What I’m saying is we had for the time that Windows phone 3 smartphones but mainly 2 smartphones platforms to care about, for voice technologies, the number of devices and smart assistants is only growing.

Who has the developers?

So far, Amazon Alexa commands the biggest number of developers and voice application creators. I don’t see that changing for a while even if the shipment numbers move around over the end of the year sales. The work Amazon’s evangelists team is doing plays an important role in this, no other company is investing as many resources in listening, educating and providing resources for skills developers. At the same time, the more creators of applications, more skills and more user engagement.
When Bixby announced their smart assistant, the first thing that came to my mind and I commented is I just want to see how much developer attention they can get to develop their first capsules (Samsung calls their assistant applications capsules). If you think about it Cortana partnering with Alexa, is genius in that way, they will be leveraging the environment that Alexa developers already have. I’m not saying the number of smart assistants and devices to build for will be a major problem, because we have tools like, dialog flow, voice app and frameworks like Jovo, that allow you to develop for multiple platforms, and most likely they will continue to add support for new platforms as they come along. However, I do not see a future is us building skill versions for 5 voice assistants in 5 different English locales, let alone any other language you might want to support.

The voice platform space is different is fundamental ways

Thinking about the huge impact the iPhone had, they also had a huge advantage with the App Store when it launched, it was a breakthrough, no other platform like it existed. Voice technology adoption is going to be fundamentally different than what we have seen until now with websites and mobile apps, because the circumstances are different in terms of building, promoting and usage. I’m betting whoever picks the most apps developers is going to be the platform that rule all the others.

Voice is the platform for creatives, but not yet

I have said before this is the platform for creatives, but creatives are not the first to come to build, I had a call last week with a musician interested in voice tech and he was asking for advice on how to make his friends to understand that voice is a platform they need to be in. The early adopters are the developers, not the creatives. Essentially, developers focus and attention in one platform or the other is the ultimate trade for the future of voice applications in a fragmented space.

Let’s keep the conversation on Twitter and Instagram

Our Twitter handle is voicefirstlabs and we are voicefirstweekly in Instagram, shut us a comment there to let me know what you think or anything else really, I love to interact about this space. My name is Mari, I’m will talk to you tomorrow.

Aloha: Facebook voice assistant

The big news of this morning and we’ll certainly be of the week is the rumors of a Facebook AI assistant. Jane Munchung Won, known for reverse engineering apps and uncovering features, reverse engineered the latest update of the Facebook app on Android and uncovered a feature called Aloha that she showed in a video where you can see a bar that seems to be capturing speech. If this is news, wait to hear the rest, she also uncovered what appears to be a voice messaging feature in the Instagram app, even if feature seems not to be functional.

Facebook rumors of a smart display has been rolling out in 2018

This is not the first time that Facebook is in the news for voice, there are reports that Aloha should have been released in July, and we know that didn’t happen. What we don’t know is if they are going to work on only the assistant for Messenger and Instagram or if they will release a smart display device. But if they do, it means users now will have at least in the US 4 devices to choose from: Amazon’s, Google’s, Samsung’s and Facebook’s. Both Messenger and Instagram command together an audience of almost 2 billion users. It would make sense for Facebook to have voice in those apps instead of a new device, and they have taken this strategy before when they didn’t launched a smartphone. In this case, only time will tell.

Voice messaging fits Facebook mission perfectly

Voice messaging fits Facebook mission perfectly of connecting the world, what is more connecting than voice? It seems we are going to have an interesting fall season with voice news.

What do guys think? Hit us a comment on Twitter @voicefirstlabs or Instagram @voicefirstweekly and let’s start a conversation. This episode transcript is at along with a link to the video we mentioned.

Thank you for listening!