Amazon, Google Talk up Advances in Voice Commerce

voice activation

The evolution of voice commerce is accelerating as years of experimentation and pilots reshape initiatives around increasing smart connected homes, cars and shopping experiences.

At the Google I/O 2022 developer conference in June, talk was of sunsetting Conversational Actions, which has grounded Google voice application development for the past five years.

In a blog post from the event, Google said it is moving developer focus to its App Actions With Android development platform, saying “ we envision a platform that is intuitive, natural, and voice-forward — and one that allows developers to leverage the entire Android ecosystem of devices so they can easily reach more users. We’re always looking to improve the Assistant experience and we’re confident that App Actions is the best way to do that.”

It added that App Actions “not only make your apps easier to discover; you can offer deeper voice experiences by allowing users to simply ask for what they need in their queries.”

“Voice is great, but voice that is detached [from the larger ecosystem] isn’t as compelling,” Google Assistant Director of Product Management Rebecca Nathenson said in an interview with developer site “It’s a big change, so there will be a full year and support mechanisms helping [developers] learn about Android, specifically App Actions.”

While the change mostly impacts third-party developers, the objective is more voice interactions more seamlessly across smart home and mobile applications that in turn trigger network effects bringing voice deeper into the commercial conversation.

PYMNTS’ Karen Webster noted the trend, recently writing that “cross-channel network effects will be driven by the convenience of using the consumer’s voice to complete any task that consumers really don’t like doing but feel comfortable outsourcing to their smart home digital assistant instead. Businesses will develop skills and connected devices to expand the number of use cases and connected end points that give consumers more places and ways to do that.”

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Voice commands are pushing manual controls aside more now as the technology rapidly advances. Our July study, “The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Rise Of The Smart Home,” notes, “Use of in-home voice assistants is also growing more common with each passing month. Not only did 29% of consumers use voice assistants to manage their chores in May, but 26% used them to make eCommerce purchases for groceries, food, retail items or otherwise.”

That Q2 survey of nearly 2,700 consumers states that “engagement across activities involving digital and smart home devices last month reached 32% — an estimated 83 million consumers — whether it was home security applications, automated climate controls or in-home voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Home.”

Get your copy: The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Rise Of The Smart Home

The Matter of Amazon

At the Amazon Alexa Live developer event in late July, voice developments were plentiful, with the eCommerce giant focusing on its Voice Interoperability Initiative and its Alexa Shopping Kit suite of developer tools.

In a blog post wrapping the event, Amazon said, “With the Alexa Shopping Kit, developers can engage customers at every stage of the shopping journey from discovery to purchase. Skill builders can minimize their code burden by simply choosing the products they want to surface and let Alexa do the heavy lifting of enabling shopping experiences within their skill.”

Another Amazon blog summarizing Alexa Live noted that its work using the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) Matter smart home connectivity protocol is proceeding.

“Matter is launching later this year with the aim of making it easier for smart home devices to interoperate with each other, simplifying development for you, and increasing compatibility for your customers,” Amazon said. “Some of you may already be planning to build new Matter devices, or to update existing ones to support Matter. With Amazon, device makers will have a richer feature set and flexible capabilities to develop differentiated products with Matter.”

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