Happy end-of-week, everyone, and welcome to 5 for Friday!
We’ve taken a different approach to the news this week and opted to dedicate today’s selection of headlines to a topic that continues to trend: voice search. With the technology becoming more and more commonplace, voice search has found itself among the developments forging the future of digital. We've narrowed our top news picks to those we thought you might appreciate.
Adding “automotive” to their list of industries to conquest, Amazon has launched an open-source version of their Alexa Auto SDK (also known as Alexa Automotive Core SDK) to help automakers integrate voice control into in-vehicle media and entertainment systems, navigation screens, and climate control.
Free for download on GitHub, Auto SDK is designed to bring Alexa into in-car dashboards and simplify common tasks like making or receiving phone calls, playing music, finding directions, and locating businesses.
Like Alexa-powered smart speakers, it will also let drivers control smart home devices, check weather, and engage skills. Already adopted by companies like Ford, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, General Motors, and others, Alexa Auto SDK aims to compete with Apple’s CarPlay, Android Auto, SoundHound, and Nvidia Drive.
With smart speakers expected to find their way into 55% of all U.S. homes by 2022, new research is shedding some light on the challenges virtual voice assistant (VVA) algorithms present to brands.
Conducted by Digitas, the data presented in their “Brand’s Guide To Taking Back Control in a Voice-Driven World” suggests that brands who are unprepared for VVAs will “risk losing visibility and loyalty.”
Because algorithms typically surface “preferred options,” the risk of receiving an unintended result (or a suggestion that doesn’t quite favor the brand initially requested by the user) is high.
“This,” says Digitas, “means if a brand isn’t showing up first in voice search results, they may be boxed out of the purchasing decision.”
Google is working on a new markup system that’s going to make content more accessible through voice search.
Currently in beta, Speakable is the result of the search giant's partnership with schema.org and allows creators to “wrap” their content in tags that Google can “read” aloud to users for relevant queries.
Described as an “audible version of instant answers,” Speakable has been made available to select group of English-language Google News Producers who submit content through Google’s Publisher Center.
“As this is a new feature,” writes Google Senior Staff Software Engineer, TV Raman, “we are experimenting over time to refine the publisher and user experience,” before rolling it out to other countries and industries.
Shoppers using the Apple Store app can now conduct their product searches via voice.
Pushed as part of the app's version 5.1 update, the new feature can be activated by tapping the microphone icon that’s been added to the interface.
Describing the improvements in the “What's New” section of the app’s App Store page, developers state that “search has been updated with an enhanced design – and it's now powered with speech recognition technology for better search results.”
A smart move on Apple's part, and an opportunity to showcase just how far their speech recognition platform (and Apple Store app) has come.
To take advantage of the visual potential of Amazon’s Echo Show, voice search pioneer Campbell's has added visual elements to their popular Campbell's Kitchen Skill.
Recognized as the first consumer brand to launch a voice skill back in 2015, Campbell's sees long-term value in the platform as a more modern way to share recipes (which are now shoppable) with consumers.
According Matt Pritchard, Campbell's VP of Digital Marketing, “the brands that want to win today need to understand the customer journey, and figure out how they can interject and add value along the path to purchase.”
The skill, he says, was designed to be a resource versus “peddle soup.” For Pritchard, it’s “an opportunity to engage with consumers and really shape how our brands come up in their space.”