Voice + GUI = The marriage that works!

Making apps more intuitive, fun and accessible by combining voice input and GUI output

“Voice is the next big thing!” scream the headlines all over town. If you have followed CES for the past few years, you could not have missed hearing this “prediction”.

“Voice UI” is the future is the claim!

But, we think that a Voice-only UI is actually a step backward.

Our oldest interface

Voice, certainly, is the most natural of input interfaces. Most of us have been using it since we were born (some more than others :-)). Either to communicate our wants or to communicate our displeasure. Sometimes in intelligible ways. Sometimes in unintelligible ways. We learnt to use our mouth lot earlier than we learnt to use our fingers. It’s only natural that we use this God-given ability, to interact with computers which are starting to mimic us more and more.

But the abilities of computers do not always match the abilities of humans.

Computers have a much richer output interface as compared to us - the screen. But humans are limited to using voice both as input and output interfaces. Restricting computers to our limitations of voice-only input/output interfaces is going to artificially stifle their abilities and their usefulness.

“What vegetarian pizzas do you have?”

“You can choose between Veggie Delight, Simply Veggie, Veggie Extravaganza”

Imagine asking your “voice assistant” the above question, and the assistant responding with the above choices. Humans have a very limited capability to process such list style information and would most likely end up choosing the third choice (because they don’t remember what the other two were!).

Now imagine instead asking a pizza app the same question (“What vegetarian pizza choices do you have?”) and the app immediately responding with a screen like this -

Image of Veggie Pizza Choices

The experience would be far more natural.

Or performing a bank transaction by saying “show me the last 6 months statement” to a banking app, and the app instead of speaking back, visually showing you the statement. Exactly as it would have, if you clicked on the GUI to show statements and selected a starting date of 6 months ago

We just reduced a thousand clicks on the screen to a single voice input. But we did not convert the thousand pieces of information on the screen into a single voice output!

Voice is great as a natural input interface. Its easy, its intuitive and very fast.

GUIs are great as a rich, comprehensive and high-bandwidth output interface.

Marrying them together to build the apps of the future or converting the apps of today into this paradigm, would open up your app to audiences that expect convenience, speed and are growing up with the notion that voice interfaces will be present everywhere.

If the idea of building voice + GUI apps sounds interesting to you, please sign up below.

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Kumar Rangarajan

Chief Slacker @ Slang