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Google: Teens Embrace Voice Search More than Adults

Google Mobile Voice Study examines use of Google, Siri, and Cortana by age groups.
Posted Oct 17, 2014
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Google has released the results of a mobile voice study examining the voice search habits among American smartphone users across different age ranges. Among teens, 55 percent use voice search every day; 56 percent of adults said it makes them "feel tech savvy," and both age groups are talking to their phones while watching TV (38 percent), and wish voice search could help them find the remote control (41 percent). The study of 1,400 smartphone users was conducted on behalf of Google by Northstar Research.

"We wanted to learn more about how people of all ages use Google hands-free on their phones,” said Scott Huffman, Google vice president for conversational search, in a statement. “We found that for teens, voice search comes as naturally as checking social media, and they're getting very creative about how (and where) they use it. The study gives us great ideas about new ways we could help people — maybe even help them find their keys and other elusive objects." 

The mobile voice study asked participants to articulate their opinions about voice search (the most popular examples of which are Google, Siri and Cortana), and to explain how, where and why they use the mobile feature. Respondents prioritize voice search for activities that require safety and efficiency. For example:

  • 40 percent use voice search to ask for directions.
  • 39 percent use the feature to dictate text messages.
  • 32 percent use it to make phone calls.
  • 23 percent of adult Americans use voice search when  cooking.
  • 51 percent of teens (and 32 percent of adults) use voice search just for fun.
  • 27 percent use voice search to check the weather. 

The majority of U.S. teens (55 percent) use hands-free search every day, and that figure rises to 75 percent among teens who are wedded to their smartphones (using it 11-plus hours per day). While hands-free search is growing more common across all age groups, some self-consciousness remains: 45 percent of adult Americans admit to "feeling like a geek" when they talk to their smartphones. Despite this, all age groups agree that voice search will be "very common" in the future (89 percent of teens and 85 percent of adults agree).

Seventy-six percent of all Americans think voice search is great for multitasking; 59 percent of teens; 36 percent of adults use their phones' voice search while watching TV; 22 percent of teens claim to use it  in the bathroom. Overall, two-thirds (64 percent) think voice search is cool and nearly as many (58 percent) say they feel tech-savvy.

When asked to pick "one thing you wish you could ask your phone to do for you," 45 percent of American teens selected "send me a pizza." More pragmatic adults wished they could ask their phone to locate their keys," though "send me a pizza" was also popular among 36 percent of adults. A nearly equal number of teens and adults (3 percent and 33 percent, respectively) want their smartphones to one day tell them where to find their TVs' remote controls. With Oct. 31 just a few weeks away, 16 percent of teens wish their phones could tell them what costume to wear on Halloween. 

Google's Mobile Voice Study also found that:

  • Among Americans of all ages, Northeasterners are the nation's most active voice searchers, with 50 percent using it at least once per day.
  • New Yorkers are the likeliest Americans to use voice search to ask about the weather (43 percent).
  • Northeasterners (28 percent) and Westerners (26 percent) are the likeliest to use voice search while cooking.

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