2020 brought more changes than anyone anticipated and as a result, expedited progress in tech and innovation. Certain tools have emerged as unexpected solutions – in particular, voice technology.

Adobe conducted the second iteration of its survey of 1,000 voice technology users in the US about their experiences and behaviors. In comparison to Adobe’s 2019 results, users are embracing the technology in more ways for more contactless interactions – like ordering, banking – but also exhibit more confusion about how to use it. This year holds promise of continued innovation, more user adoption and more possibilities.

Voice technology creates safer, cleaner alternatives

The COVID-19 pandemic created a need for safe, sanitary alternatives for day-to-day tasks that involve elements of touch, especially in public spaces. One in three voice users (31 percent) count sanitation, like not needing to touch high-traffic surfaces, as a benefit of using voice technology.

Thinking about situations in their personal lives where they previously might not have considered using voice technology, users would now be open to leveraging it for tasks that involve touch. 37 percent would be open to using it for checking their bank balance, 29 percent would use it to book a medical appointment and 28 percent would request a grocery delivery with voice technology. Currently, only 18 percent of users use voice technology for health or fitness applications — but with the pandemic, this has potential to grow.

In additional to personal use, 86 percent of users say that voice technology could make visiting businesses or attending events more sanitary. At events and businesses, half of respondents want to see voice technology for tasks like opening a door (56 percent), choosing a floor on the elevator (55 percent) or using a vending machine (49 percent).

Brands striving to engage with consumers in a safe way should consider leveraging voice technology to power contactless interactions and reduce contact with high-traffic surfaces.

Voice technology needs some sophistication

While voice technology has become significantly more intelligent in recent years, it is still primarily used for simple tasks. Similar to last year, some of the most popular uses for voice technology involve apps for maps or driving (52 percent), texting or chat (51 percent) and music (46 percent). Only one in four people use voice technology beyond simple searches, such as finding, ordering and sending a highly-rated gift to a friend.

While most (89 percent) of users say that voice technology is easy to use, better accuracy is the most desired improvement. 57 percent of users say improvements in accuracy would cause them to use voice technology more often or for more purposes. Additionally, users do not feel entirely comfortable with voice in public – 62 percent feel awkward using voice technology when other people are present.

Consumers are using voice more than ever and expect it to be part of existing digital experiences. For example, rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber that leverage voice technology technology see high success when combined with interfaces consumers already use daily. As this demand increases, Adobe XD is continuing to help companies and designers create integrated and immersive voice experiences – with integrations with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice prototyping.

The decade brings new opportunities and challenges

Despite recent tech innovation in the past year, people still don’t feel entirely knowledgeable around how to use voice technology themselves. In comparison to Adobe’s 2019 survey, the number of users who claim that they do not know where to begin accomplishing a task using voice technology went up by 14 percent. Additionally, most are relatively new, with 39 percent using voice technology for the first time in the past year. A very select group of users (6 percent) ranks themselves as a “power user” who knows all the capabilities and could be a resource for others.

However, consumers plan to use more voice technology. 49 percent of users predict that by 2025, voice technology will better meet their needs as its design continues to develop. With the massive cultural and economic shifts occurring this year, both personal and professional lives will see tech transformations. Industries and brands that embrace these changes will likely see positive results as they rebound from the pandemic.

Read about Adobe XD’s new Google Assistant plugin on the Adobe Blog.