What do you need to know about Voice Search?


In the last six years of owning a smartphone and all of its intrinsic technical bells and whistles, I have used its voice recognition software only once. This was a request to Siri to, “Open the pod bay doors HAL.”

It’s great, you should try it… Although after repeatedly attempting it again this morning, Siri’s response has become terribly withering.


And that’s about my total experience. 

However, as of October 2014, 55% of US teens and 41% of US adults use Google voice search more than once a day and the use of mobile voice search more than doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to a study from Northstar Research.

The study also reveals that 56% of adults use voice search because it makes them “feel tech-savvy.” Further testament that you’ll never go broke developing tech that makes people feel like they’re in an episode of Star Trek.

So I’m intrigued… How popular is voice search right now? Will it become a bigger deal in the future? Who uses voice search? Why won’t Siri play along with my 2001 references anymore?

I’ll try to answer all these questions now. (Quick spoiler for the last one, it’s rightfully bored of me.)

How popular is voice search right now? 

The study above was commissioned by Google and is now more than a year old, however it is the most up to date study I have found so far. If anyone can point me in the direction of newer research I’d be very grateful.

Who uses voice search and why do they use it?

Of course the most obvious answer here is that it grants a better level of web accessibility to people with disabilities. Unfortunately Google had to drop its always listening “Okay Google” feature for the desktop version of Chrome, where users could just say “okay Google” and a voice activated search would take place. It does however still feature on mobile devices and Chromebooks, and you can activate it on desktop by clicking the microphone symbol in the Google search bar.

Voice search has also found popularity in Asian markets. In October 2015, Google ran its first ad campaign in Vietnam, and put voice search right at the fore.