Coronavirus Lockdown is Upping Voice Assistant Interaction in the UK: Report 

The government-ordered lockdown in the United Kingdom prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic is leading more than half of voice assistant owners to increase their use of the technology, according to a new report by voice tech agency Voxly Digital. Their survey of users in the UK also found that 40% plan to up their use of the tech even after the lockdown ends.

Talking Leads to Talking

The lockdown and its ramifications for social interaction make interacting with a voice assistant more likely, according to the survey. With around a quarter of UK homes possessing a smart speaker, plus the prevalence of voice assistants on mobile devices, accessibility is extremely easy, which may partly explain why use is growing as the lockdown continues. A fifth of voice assistant users has actually doubled their use of the technology.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice apps are both getting a lot of time, according to Voxley, with more than half of the respondents saying the voice assistants have become more a part of the family during the lockdown. Alexa is more widely used than Google Assistant except in case of mobile devices, though. Two-thirds of voice assistant users are having more fun with their voice assistant, in whatever form that takes for them. In all, 60% of voice assistant users said the tech was helping them during isolation.

“Once the UK lockdown began – we immediately saw a rise in traffic to the third-party Alexa Skills and Google Actions we host,” Voxly founder Ravi Lal said. “We’re optimistic about what these results suggest for the future of voice-usage more generally, but also of third-party voice-apps.”

Louder Voices

How the voice assistants are helping varies quite a lot, however. People are consuming a lot more audio content, with daily use rising from 41% to 63% since the lockdown began, and daily game-playing with a voice assistant has risen a similar amount to 39%. Voxly’s results match with other surveys done since the pandemic started. Fellow British firm IAB UK reported skyrocketing numbers in both production and consumption of audio entertainment just last month. In the U.S., radio listening is up among a third of the population, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Increased voice assistant use is part of why Amazon is offering a year’s free subscription to Food Network Kitchen, an app for smart displays and smart TVs ideal for people stuck at home and cooking a lot more than usual. The time and willingness to discover new ways to use Alexa and Google Assistant are likely a cause for many of the 40% of users who said they would use their voice assistants more after the lockdown ends.

“We expect these trends to continue after the lockdown is over. Less experienced users have had more time to explore and get to know how these services work, with more than half telling us they “’feel more confident’ now using voice,” Voxly head of strategy Rozzi Meredith said. “Voice assistants appear to be forming an important part of people’s coping toolbox whilst stuck at home – and we don’t expect to see these habits fall away anytime soon.”


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