Voice as an Interface

For the last several weeks I’ve tried to use Perplexity as my default search engine on mobile. I’ve enjoyed the experience more than Google and ChatGPT and I’m going to stick with it for now. I don’t know if my usage will last for a long time, mainly because I think other search applications will quickly innovate on user experience and that for the first time in decades this will be a hot and competitive market.

One of the new behaviors I noticed for myself was that I now like to use voice as an input to search. I’ve always been a typer, especially on mobile. But new AI powered search results actually improve as my queries become much more specific and detailed, and voice is a more seamless and natural way to make this happen. Instead of a quick text blurb, a conversational approach to search now yields superior results.

Voice as a part of UX has been around for a long time (eg Siri), but I think we are about to see it explode in usage. A key part of that is the movement to natural language as the fuel by which we make software do things for us. I no longer think of voice as just an input, I think of conversation as the new UX. This leaves many open questions, like will people be speaking out loud to their personal devices all day long? Is that preferable to being hunched over our phones tapping away? Will we be comfortable expressing our private interactions with software out loud?

My intuition is that in an era where a lot of digital experiences (particularly non media or entertainment based ones) are abstracted to voice interactions, we are going to witness a lot of behavior change at a mass population level. We are also going to see a lot of creative people start opening up new experiences within voice as an interface the same way we saw people innovate on UX on our mobile screens. Perhaps one of the early impactful things AI will do is free us from the glow of our physical devices.

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