The daily use of voice assistants in the UK has risen significantly in the past 12 months according to new research.
The new survey of 1000 smart speaker owners in the UK was carried out by digital experience agency Code Computerlove and Mediacom North to benchmark changes in the use of voice assistants in the past 12 months.
Seven out of 10 people who own a voice-controlled device now use it on a daily basis, a huge increase on the four out of 10 people who said they used theirs daily last year.
Almost everyone (93%) who owns a voice device now uses it at least once a week, up from 83% in 2018 , and one in five people hare heavy users, interacting with their voice assistant at least five times per day.
A third (32%) of smart speaker owners now have more than one device in their home
Amazon’s Alexa remains the most popular voice assistant (80% of those surveyed own this device) followed by Google Home (28%) and then Apple Homepod (3%). Interestingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely than other age groups to prefer Google Home (43% of this age group do). This is similar to last year’s results, although the percentage of people saying they own an Apple Homepod has shrunk.
As well as indicating that people now use their voice assistants more often than last year, the research also looked into what they are using them for and how this has altered year on year.
What British adults ask their voice assistants
The most popular tasks – using devices to play music/the radio, to listen to the news/weather forecasts and finding out facts – have all seen substantial year-on-year increases.
Smaller increases were tracked for making purchases or ordering takeaways via a voice assistant, with the percentage of people using smart speakers for these tasks both remaining under 10%.
A quarter of respondents still use Alexa to boil an egg though – with 24% using the egg timer function (up from 20% in 2018).
The past 12 months have seen games played on voice devices triple; listening to podcasts and audiobooks has also doubled.
The survey also looked at where in the house virtual assistant usage is most prevalent. The results were very similar to 2018; the lounge came in at number one (68%), followed by the kitchen (40%), and then the bedroom (37%, up from 26% in 2018).
Despite using voice assistants more, more than three-quarters of Brits are concerned that home voice assistants might listen to and store their private conversations – a similar level of concern as reported last year.
Only 14% have changed their privacy settings on their home voice device though, perhaps indicating there is still a lack of awareness surrounding this issue and functionality.
What stops people from using their home voice assistants more often?
Fewer than one in ten people say that being bored with their assistant stops them from using it more.
The number of people saying that their assistants don’t understand them or get answers wrong has decreased since last year, which points to an improvement in the underlying technology. However, on the flip side, more people say that they use theirs less as they’re worried about the data that home voice assistants collect or they forget that it’s there.
Tony Foggett, CEO of Code Computerlove commented on the new survey findings: “The clear increases in Voice Assistant usage reinforces our own belief that voice technology is here to stay; having Alexa as part of our everyday lives is something we clearly all love.
“Voice assistants offer easy access to all sorts of useful content and are super convenient in busy homes to get answers to questions quickly or to expand on how we listen to music and the radio.
“New Alexa Skills are being launched every day, as businesses switch on to the opportunity to reach consumers via this channel. It is a rapidly expanding area.
Now is definitely the time for companies to be looking at how they can best leverage voice to better interact with their customers. It doesn’t always make sense for every brand to introduce a voice skill but they should all be considering if it can add value.”
Code’s voice specialist Duncan Bloor added: “These results are interesting because they may be the first indication that home voice assistants are shifting from novelty devices to an everyday part of people’s lives. More people are using their devices more frequently for more things. They’re finding real value from their convenience.
“Although purchasing goods and ordering services remains a relatively underused function, there are early indications that demand for this functionality is on the rise and this is being matched by developments in the industry. This will be great news for the people behind home voice assistants and if the trend continues, will see companies innovating in this space and rewarded for their efforts.
“Voice skill development and voice technology is a really exciting space, it’s here to stay and get bigger.”