- EasyJet is launching an English-language voice search in its mobile app, letting travelers find flights by saying their destination, travel dates and airports they want to fly from, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The soon-to-launch "Speak Now" feature — reportedly the first among airlines — aims to cut the time and hassle of searching for flights, which typically takes 12 taps on a smartphone.
- "Speak Now" also will help people with visual impairments to use verbal commands to search for flights. EasyJet worked with Travelport, a developer of software for the travel industry, to create the tool with Google Cloud's natural language understanding tool known as Dialogflow.
- EasyJet will add "Speak Now" to its iOS app in the coming weeks, with plans to add Android capabilities and additional languages by early next year.
EasyJet's "Speak Now" feature is the latest sign that brands are building out voice-powered features for their mobile apps. Marketers are more likely to prioritize voice assistants on smartphones than on other devices such as smart speakers, cars and wearables due to their omnipresence in consumers' lives.
About 87% of marketers said having a voice app on a smartphone is "extremely" or "significantly" important, per a survey by Voicebot and Voices.com. That's ahead of automobiles (73%), smart speakers (73%), smart TVs (56%) and wearables (48%), the survey found.
Marketers appear to be smart in prioritizing voice-enabled apps, as most consumers currently use digital assistants on smartphones over other devices. In the U.S., 90.1 million people access their smartphone-based voice assistants every month, ahead of cars (77.1 million) and smart speakers (45.7 million), according to a separate study by Voicebot and Drivetime.fm.
For Google, the development of "Speak Now" is a chance to showcase its technology for creating conversational experiences as the search giant competes with Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Microsoft and Samsung for a share of the increasingly crowded voice assistant space. Google Assistant last year had 51% market share on smartphones, ahead of Apple's Siri at 31%, Baidu's Duer at 17% and Samsung's Bixby at 10%, per Strategy Analytics.
However, Google has developed somewhat of a negative reputation for abandoning products — websites like Google Cemetery, Killed by Google and Did Google Shutdown_Yet? attest to that — after showing significant initial enthusiasm. Pulling the plug on technologies is frustrating for marketers and consumers, potentially making them doubtful about committing to Google's products. If more companies like EasyJet adopt Google's Dialogflow in their apps, the company has a chance to expand its platform among a wider variety of connected devices.