Answering Common Questions about Voice Assistants

March 10, 2024
Posted by
Andrew Pottruff
Answering Common Questions about Voice Assistants


Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have rapidly grown in popularity and use over the past few years. These virtual helpers now live on our smartphones, smart speakers, cars and more, helping us get things done through simple voice commands. But how exactly do they work, and what does the future look like for this voice-activated technology? This article will answer some common questions people have about the capabilities, security and potential of voice assistants.

What is a Voice Assistant and How Does it Work?

A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand spoken requests and complete tasks for the user. When you speak to a voice assistant, your voice is picked up by the device's microphone. Speech recognition software converts the audio into text, which is then analyzed to determine the user's intent and what response or action is needed.

Popular voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and the Google Assistant rely on large datasets and deep learning algorithms to constantly improve their speech recognition and language understanding capabilities. This allows them to handle more natural conversations and requests compared to earlier voice assistants.

What Can You Use a Voice Assistant For?

Voice assistants are extremely versatile tools that can help with many daily tasks:

  • Controlling smart home devices like lights, thermostats, appliances and security systems with voice commands.
  • Getting quick answers to questions by tapping into information from the internet.
  • Scheduling appointments, reminders and calendar events hands-free.
  • Shopping online by placing orders for household essentials or other items.
  • Streaming music, podcasts, audiobooks and other entertainment using services like Spotify, Apple Music and Audible.
  • Making calls, sending texts and getting directions on your smartphone completely hands-free.
  • Controlling TVs and other entertainment systems.
  • Providing news and weather updates tailored to your interests and location.
  • Acting as an intercom system within the home.

The capabilities of voice assistants are rapidly improving thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and natural language understanding.

How Secure and Private Are Voice Assistants?

With voice assistants constantly listening for wake words, there are understandable privacy concerns around these devices recording private conversations. However, major companies like Amazon, Apple and Google state that nothing is recorded or transmitted from the device until the wake word is detected.

Recordings of user interactions are used by the companies to improve speech recognition and responses. Users can view and delete these voice recordings in their account settings for more control. Turning off features like personalized responses also increases privacy.

Security features available on most voice assistants include voice match, which identifies individual voices, and verification codes to prevent unauthorized voice purchases. Using complex wake words also makes accidental activations less likely. Users should also be aware of phishing risks from voice spam calls. Overall, being informed on how voice assistants work and using available privacy controls allows for secure use.

What Does the Future Look Like for Voice Assistants?

Voice assistant technology is still evolving rapidly. Here are some exciting developments on the horizon:

  • Expanded hands-free control of more home appliances, devices and smart home systems.
  • Integration with additional services like email, calendars and third-party apps.
  • More natural conversational abilities, contextual awareness and personalized recommendations.
  • Enhanced voice biometric security features for user identification.
  • Built-in translators that allow real-time foreign language translation.
  • Increased use of voice search rather than typing on mobile devices.
  • Voice assistants that understand and respond to multiple users in a household.
  • Expanding use of voice commerce, with consumers increasingly shopping via voice commands.

As artificial intelligence and voice recognition accuracy continues improving, voice assistants will become even more indispensable digital helpers in our everyday lives.

How Are Brands Using Voice Assistants for Marketing and Customer Service?

Voice assistants also present exciting opportunities for businesses to engage with consumers:

  • Developing “skills” for Alexa and actions for Google Assistant that enable users to interact with brand content and services through voice.
  • Optimizing content for voice search to allow brands to be discovered through voice queries.
  • Running targeted audio ads on voice assistant devices.
  • Building voice bots that can answer customer service queries and provide support.
  • Integrating voice assistants into company mobile apps to boost engagement.

Early voice assistant adopters like Dominos, BMW, Capital One and Tide have created innovative brand experiences that feel natural and personalized. As more Canadians use voice technology, marketers can leverage these platforms to conveniently connect with customers.


From smart speakers to smartphones, voice assistants are becoming an integral part of our digital lives. As the technology improves, voice interactions will increasingly become people’s preferred way of getting things done and finding information. Voice searches and voice commerce are areas to watch as voice shifts how consumers engage with brands. With prudent privacy practices, voice assistants have the potential to be truly indispensable digital helpers in our everyday lives.