The Revolution Will Be Voice-Activated

I have never been one to stand in line at my local Apple Store for the latest iPhone release. Currently, I am still using an iPhone 7. I did buy the original Apple Watch only a few months after its release (April 2015), but the only Apple products that I have ever pre-ordered or bought immediately on release have been the Airpods (December 2016) and, more recently, the Airpods Pro (October 2019). I have really enjoyed both versions of Apple’s take on the wireless headphones, but many people view these products as more than meets the eye (resisted the temptation to write “meets the ear”).

I have heard a number of people whose opinions I value predict that the impact of the Airpods will be the most significant of any Apple product since the iPhone. In most cases, the basis of these perspectives relies on a forecast of the future that involves some combination of technological advancement of natural language processing and translation, the improved design, interface, and utilization of voice-activated virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, the emergence of new voice-activated and audio-based applications, the proliferation of voice and audio enabled technology users and growth of overall engagement around the world, and the increase in the supply of audio content that will rise to meet that future demand.

I do not have much insight into the rate of improvement of these technologies though I know some believe that they are at a tipping point. I imagine that is part of what is driving some of the excitement. Nonetheless, while I do not have much of any idea when this future will unfold in some unpredictable form that may look and sound a lot like or unlike what people are predicting, I do believe that people will be talking to technology more and listening to a greater proportion of non-music audio year over year for the next several years, if not the next several after that as well. I also predict that I personally will listen to more non-music audio and do more things through Siri and Alexa in 2020 than I have in all of my past years combined. For now, that is not too high of a threshold to overcome.

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