Making an app voice first

The world has a number of emerging voice interfaces and assistants – including Siri, OK Google and Alexa. Dozens of smaller companies also provide technology and the use cases for voice-first apps are increasing. Smart homes and smart cars (CAVs) are 2 large domains where adding in new services via voice are emerging. In-car voice makes complete sense to drivers whose eyes and hands are currently occupied – we actually would need less voice control in the car if cars were driverless!

Our core reason for including voice-first design is that it enables handsfree and eyes on the road. This is a pure safety rationale as visual aid does generally make a better and easier to devise user experience. Other reasons for voice-first reinforce the decision too. In a car, a driver will really only want to see 3 things from an app:

  1. Navigation and maps
  2. Music and radio
  3. Phone calls and messages (voice dictated)

It will be very hard to get a car driver to do much else. Setting reminders (diary) has some use but drivers will not be playing games, controlling settings via an app or trying to use other services. But what if they have to – what if they need critical journey information and need to adjust their navigation, how or when they will be collecting someone, reporting road incidents or any other activity that might need set-up before starting the car. Easy and simple ways to improve voice control will help drivers and stop them getting distracted from the road.
Woman Using Siri On Her Phone

Set up Siri shortcuts in Eloy to  ensure your device is fully hands-free when driving

The app isn't on screen

So our view is that you don’t have the app open when you start driving. You may have the phone mounted in the car or you may have it plugged into the car infotainment system – enabling Apple CarPlay and Siri. In iOS, we then create links into our app from Siri using Siri Shortcuts. This allows users to choose their own command words (although we have default selections) and Eloy app functionality is then enabled from those Siri shortcuts and runs in the background. Here are just a few of the voice commands we currently have:

  • Report Incident
  • Park the Car
  • Read & Filter Driver’s Log
  • Adding passengers to the car
  • Launch navigation to a location

Our goal is to build an increasing collection of highly useful driver and passenger car services, with voice control a vital point to many of them if those services are required whilst driving. We find that some use cases are enabling existing technology and existing processes to occur more seamlessly:

  • Absolutely no need to touch the mobile phone
  • Getting the fiddly things in tech to work more easily (eg. Google maps to work via Siri)
  • Allowing a more experienced technology user to help those with less experience
  • Reducing the voice command inaccuracy with machine learning
Siri Screenshot

Eloy works seamlessly with Siri Shortcuts

Built in Siri Shortcuts means you can use Eloy hands-free

What's next?

Voice apps have the difficulty in not showing instant gratification to the user. With visual user journeys, we can make buttons change colour or add animations that rewards the customer. Even nice sounds, such as Monzo’s kaching are difficult for our in-car experience. 

One area we do see as valid is our driver’s log – a central place to share data and information back to users. Reward for the driver will not be instantaneous unless that want to use our smart filters to navigate to where log entries were created (such as picking someone up). Non-drivers can get instant gratification and we also can provide post-driving rewards to users. 

Better driving experience

Much of what we have described above is how we have built an app that allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. This is requiring a different approach to user experience design. 

We have a set of use case videos that you can also find on the website and please download the app and drive better. 

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