This is no surprise to see in this year at Google I/O conference in the Google Campus pushing into new products and services in voice recognition and more adaptive text apps to try to compete against Amazon and facebook's rise in user-friendly search-and-assistant services.
What was surprising was Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai admitting on stage that Amazon Echo, the tabletop and mobile speaker device with Alexa, a voice recognition assistant has stolen a march on google and the rest of the industry in offering voice-controlled services for the connected home to connected retail and a huge range of other possible services. Amazon launched Echo June 2015, a year ahead of Google having recognized earlier than anyone else that this would be the "next big thing".
We are moving from keyboard to control by voice and virtual reality touch
What is driving this is that we have passed a tipping point a few years back with the convergence of faster cheap computing power and faster broadband and local wifi network speeds to enable better near instant search and complex response. These means the old world of click and search and bad voice recognition or at best clunky responses has moved on into smooth rapid better voice, face, gesture, and text recognition now in real time. Why this is fundamentally important is that it means we will increasingly not touch a keyboard or smartphone or tablet screen but use our voice to do the same thing but more importantly, it will also "talk back" and recommend and assist with personalized services or connected room or car situational advice. Thirdly, it also means that the earlier attempts of virtual reality with Google Glass and Microsoft Kinect have shifted from fad and game inside a closed virtual environments to a bigger open assisted augmented reality of connected things.
In effect we are moving from early closed virtual reality (Closed-VR) to open augmented reality (Open-AR) which mixes and blends your devices and experience with voice, sounds, sights and machine artificial intelligence to make it more immersive.
This is a hugely disruptive change, it is a race, all the big players are working on this. Microsoft new assistant Viv showcased recently as a successor to Cortana and Apple Siri are also making noises to develop more in this area.
Google also announced a new Virtual reality platform called Daydream, this is key in competing with Microsoft Hololens and Facebook Occulus Rift. A miss-conception is this is just a "gaming platform" is wrong, these are the new "search platforms" of the future where it is not a search list on a webpage, but how a smart product with a voice control responses to questions and how objects, walls, and rooms can be explored and linked with virtual data and visual information. It also enables "new tricks" such as displaying 3D images of people you are talking to in the same virtual room to connected shopping-by-voice or virtual and creative fan experiences that bring together experiences only possible in a virtual place.
What is next for the disruptors?
While the other announcements by Google such as the messaging service Allo was a me-too response to the WhatsApp messenger success from facebook and its end-to-end encryption and ease of use. The real battle ground is now the physical-virtual platform services and the new smart connected appliances, what some call the Internet of things but also the Machine and Artificial Intelligence that will work in real-time in the here and now where ever you are with an internet connection.