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Voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023 – TechCrunch

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Voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023 – TechCrunch

The use of voice assistants is set to triple over the next few years, according to a new forecast from the U.K.-based analysts at Juniper Research. The firm estimates there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion assistants in use at the end of 2018.

The majority of those assistants will live on smartphones, where Google Assistant and Siri offer voice assistants to Android and iOS users, respectively.

In fact, Google already announced its voice assistant would be enabled on a billion devices as of last month, thanks to its integration with Android. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Alexa – which still primarily lives on smart speakers like Echo – has reached over 100 million devices.

Juniper, however, predicts that the fastest growing category for voice over the next several years will not be smart speakers. It will be smart TVs.

The firm expects the smart TV voice assistant category to grow by 121.3 percent (CAGR) over the next five years, while smart speakers will grow by 41.3 percent. Wearables will also play a significant role, with 40.2 percent growth, the study founds.

Alexa is already the market leader on smart speakers, but in the years ahead it will be challenged by Chinese companies rolling out their own smart devices, the report says.

Also of note, the report challenges the belief that smart speakers aren’t being used for commerce. Instead, it says that voice commerce will grow substantially to reach over $80 billion per year, by 2023. However, there’s a twist to its findings.

Its “voice commerce” figure includes money transfer and purchases of digital goods alongside voice commerce’s use for more traditional purchases. And it doesn’t expect physical purchases to account for the bigger chunk of that $80 billion.

“We expect the majority of voice commerce to be digital purchases, until digital assistants offer truly seamless cross-platform experiences” said research author James Moar, in a statement about the new study. “Connected TVs and smart displays are vital here, as they can provide a visual context that is lacking in smart speakers.”

It’s worth noting, too, that Juniper believes the rise of digital assistants will negatively affect the global mobile app market. Specifically, it says that as consumer demand for multi-platform assistants increase, standalone apps for smartphones and tablets made by independent developers will decline. This will come about because many of the simpler interactions we use apps for today will become outsourced to voice assistants. And this, in turn, will also reduce our screen time.

In addition, there are early indications that smart speakers are becoming a part of users’ daily routines, in ways that voice assistants on other platforms are not. This will lead to increased demand for voice-only interactions in the future, the firm says.

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Judge says Washington state cyberstalking law violates free speech

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The ruling came after a retired Air Force Major, Richard Rynearson III, sued to have the law overturned. He claimed that Kitsap County threatened to prosecute him under the cyberstalking law for criticizing an activist involved with a memorial to Japanese victims of US internment camps during World War II. While Rynearson would use “invective, ridicule, and harsh language,” the judge said, his language was neither threatening nor obscene.

Officials had contended that the law held up because it targeted conduct, not the speech itself. They also maintained that Rynearson hadn’t shown evidence of a serious threat — just that the prosecutor’s office would see how Rynearson behaved and take action if necessary. A county court had already tossed out the activist’s restraining order against Rynearson over free speech.

It’s not clear whether Washington will appeal the decision. If the ruling stays, though, it could force legislators to significantly narrow the scope if it wants a cyberstalking law to remain in place. This might also set a precedent that could affect legislation elsewhere in the country.

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Steam now supports NextVR’s virtual reality broadcasts

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The Steam version of the software works with the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality devices. NextVR rolled out an iteration of the app for the Rift late last year, and it has supported the Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets longer than that. Its arrival on Steam means users don’t have to download it from the headsets’ app stores, though, such as HTC’s Viveport, which used to be infamously buggy.

David Cole, NextVR CEO, said in a statement:

“NextVR is driven to engage the largest possible audience to experience our content in virtual reality. Steam is a critically important platform to reach active virtual reality users. We’re excited to put our unparalleled live sports and entertainment experiences at the fingertips of the vibrant Steam user-base.”

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Instagram code hints at Pinterest-style public collections

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There’s no mention of following other collections, although it might just be a matter of time.

Instagram told TechCrunch only that it’s “not testing this.” However, that only means that the team isn’t publicly experimenting with its widened Collections feature at the moment. This doesn’t preclude future tests or a full-fledged release.

There are strong incentives to launch this feature, too. Instagram wants shopping to be a core part of its money-making strategy, and public Collections would go a long way toward this. Brands could launch larger virtual stores (versus a handful of products in posts and ads), while social media stars could showcase their sponsors’ wares in one convenient place. And then there’s the question of thwarting competition. Instagram is already much larger than Pinterest with over 1 billion active monthly users versus 250 million, but this would reduce the temptation to switch to Pinterest when you want to share more than just a photo or two.

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