Among the NBUs, many of whom struggle to read or type, voice is a critical and the preferred entryway to the digital world. They depend on voice as their primary input method for things like search and messaging, as it is easier than typing.
Typing in Indic and scripted languages (used by many NBUs) is more complex and time-consuming than the English alphabet; typing in Hindi can be three times slower than in English. Voice also offers them the ability to multitask, allowing them to juggle between chores, work, and other personal matters that may require online searches or sending messages.
We have incorporated voice tools in many of our products to make the internet experience more effective for NBUs. Gboard, which allows voice typing, supports more than 900 languages, including over 100 languages in NBU countries like Bangla in Bangladesh, Fulfulde and Hausa in Nigeria, and Cebuano in the Philippines. Google Go allows voice search, and it can read out websites to users and even translate them.
For all its transformational potential, current voice experiences can be unintuitive or unhelpful. To help address some of those challenges, we’ve synthesized key learnings from our research with the NBUs in a “Voice Playbook” — an insights report aimed at helping the ecosystem build more successful voice experiences for everyone.