On the eve of a new decade, we are in the midst of a seismic technological shift: the transition of user interfaces from being primarily visual to being voice-first. Science fiction books, movies and TV shows have predicted this for years, including the iconic ship computer in Star Trek, or, more recently, the virtual assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man film series and the operating system Samantha in the 2013 film Her. But it’s also clear that we’re not quite there yet; Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and all of the other voice assistants are far from being able to handle open-ended queries and respond to every request. The developer platforms still have rigid technical limitations that prevent us from realizing our most visionary voice UX ambitions. So how much further do we have to go? What technological breakthroughs are required to usher in the voice-first revolution?
With 2020 less than a month away, let’s take a look at the technological landscape of the voice space at the end of 2019 and make some predictions for the future: what are the surest bets for new features in the next year? What would we most like to see (but might be less likely to happen)? And what will be the biggest breakthrough, and can we make any predictions about how much longer we have to wait for it?