Virtual assistants are getting smarter
We could be on the verge of app extinction, with the likes of Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa evolving quicker than ever. It’s coming to the point where we won’t need as many apps on our smartphones, because virtual assistants and chatbots will be able to take care of everything for us.
From ordering an Uber to picking which crust your pizza is going to have, it could all be possible with a little help from the voices in our phones. And if you’re thinking this sounds a bit far-fetched, you mightn’t have realised some apps are already being replaced...
Have you ever asked for a sum to be worked out, for tomorrow’s weather forecast, or to be reminded to do something later that day? Although the calculator, weather, and note-taking apps aren’t very exciting, it’s the beginning of the assistant invasion.
Take for example Viv (from the guys that brought you Siri) and SoundHound’s new VA, Hound (below). These next level assistants aren’t quite consumer-ready just yet, but they do offer an insight into the kind of things we could expect. The key differences are how they deal with more complex requests. So, for example, asking Hound something like: "When is the sun going to rise two days before Christmas Day in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan?" is no problem – and there are lots of things to factor into that request.
In this video you can watch Hound in action, accurately answering a bunch of complex questions including: "How old is the father of the mother of the United States?"
But it’s not all voice-based help. Chatbots will hopefully be able to take the stress out automated booking systems, by letting you type and chat in a way you know. For example, if you want to find a cheap flight, and then book it, you could have a chat with the Skyscanner chatbot, by using Facebook Messenger or Skype. The possibilities are endless, and by streamlining the smartphone experience, we should be able to get more out of them than ever before.
On the other hand, Google is working on introducing 'instant apps', which could equally change the way we use our smartphones. The idea is quite simple - when you click a url that's optimised for an instant app, you'll be taken to a stripped down version of the website, but in app form (that you won't have to download). It will provide only the specific information you need, meaning it will load up much faster than a full site and offer a much simpler way to navigate.
The other big advantage is based around convenience. You may have been a situation where you have to download an app you're only ever going to use once - like a specific parking meter app, for example. With instant apps, you'll have all the functionality of a simplistic mobile app, but it won't take up space in your app drawer.
What do you think will be coming next? Drop us a comment below.