History may remember the decade between 2007 and 2017 as a brief and peculiar period when people barely spoke to their phones. Apple launched the iPhone in June 2007, catapulting the smartphone – and its ubiquitous touchscreen – into the ascendancy.
But the end of the touchscreen era has drawn nigh. Spoken interfaces, powered by machine learning and new insights into the psychology of conversation, are beginning to transform the way we communicate with our devices. Speaking is more intuitive then tapping and swiping through endless menus; and spoken responses make for completely hands-free interactions.
Apple’s Siri, found on its iPhones and iPads, and Amazon’s Alexa, introduced on Echo, its voice-activated table-top speaker, might be the best-known examples; but there are now dozens of other such “virtual assistants” eager to hang upon your every word.
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