Survey: Do You Even Want to Develop Apps for Voice-First Digital Assistants?

Digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri are fairly ubiquitous in 2019. Even Google’s unnamed “Assistant” has a voice and a presence in your home. They’re neat. And handy. But do you care about them professionally?

Amazon is far and away the ‘winner’ in this space; it’s made Alexa available to just about every manufacturer with a connected home gadget. It’s a handy way to ensure the home is laced with microphones dedicated to one digital assistant… but to whose benefit?

Amazon won’t tell us which Alexa skills (the categories it places Alexa apps into) pay developers the best. The only thing Amazon says is payment is based on users accessing an app, as well as its designated skill category. A recent study shows almost half of Alexa users don’t bother to search for apps at all, instead relying on the imagined use-cases Amazon has dreamed up (such as music playback or answering silly questions).

The Google Assistant is more reliant on the web; specifically, Google’s world-class search engine. It’s the differentiating factor from Alexa, and its broader scope of home devices opens up more possibilities. You can have Google Assistant scroll through a recipe as you make it, for instance. It offers over one million actions that users can take, and spans across home and mobile devices.

Apple one-ups Google with Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to string together their own ‘scenes’ via an iOS app. Shortcuts are also available to developers who want to weave them into their own apps, and Apple made the prescient move of allowing users to designate their favorite phrase to trigger a Siri Shortcut via voice actions. It’s about as personal as you can get, but Siri and Siri Shortcuts are limited to Apple’s ecosystem. Apple opens up third-party devices to its HomeKit framework, but not direct utilization of Siri in the same way that competitors do.

We’d be remiss not to mention Cortana, though its existing use seems pigeonholed to enterprise as a Windows assistant. Though consumer-facing Cortana devices exist, it seems to be angled more as… Clippy v2.0.

All these digital assistants are great, but are they good for developers? As we enter Spring, and big tech companies such as Google and Apple hold their annual developer conferences, we expect to hear about their various digital assistants. Maybe they’ll have more capabilities, or a new voice. Perhaps their artificial intelligence will be improved.

But we’ll really be watching for new tools for accessing these bots. We’re also curious if you care about these latest developments.

Our survey below is positioned uniquely for those who are interested in digital assistants, and those who are already working with them. As always, your answers are anonymous, and we’ll be publishing results in a future Insights article, so stay tuned!