The two most prominent companies offering mobile operating systems are Google and Apple. Google mainly works with hardware vendors to bring their Google Android operating system to market. Apple has been immensely successful with their fully integrated offering of the iPhone and iPad with iOS software incorporated. Now that millions of consumers use mobile devices with these two different systems every day, it is important to determine what this means for your local business. One interesting, relevant development is the investments that both Google and Apple are making in voice recognition and control.
Google Now and Apple Siri Voice Recognition
Google’s seamless Google Now platform includes snappy voice recognition software that allows Android users to prompt their phone hands-free with queries by preceding their query with “OK, Google”. Google also has a very popular Google Now iOS application, which allows Apple iPhone and iPad users to use the system. That said, Apple has their own Siri platform that has been serviceable for a while. Other companies like Microsoft have also entered the voice recognition arena, and it is expected that Microsoft will soon release their own highly intuitive and adaptive platform called Cortana.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
All of these developments are cool, but they’re also very important for your local business. As voice recognition apps become more sophisticated and intuitive, users will use them a lot more. As of May 2014, 169 million people owned smartphones in the U.S. In that same month, Apple held 41.9% of the smartphone market share, and Google’s Android held 52.1%. So, Google Now and Siri have access to a massive market.
Further, Google Now and Siri are perfect for local search queries. If a customer wants to find a salon near them, they might enter “salons near me” into Google or another search engine on their smartphone. With voice recognition platforms, the same user can ask their phone to “find salons near me”. This is incredibly intuitive – especially since the user may be in a situation where typing is not convenient.
Even More Reasons to Manage Your Local Business Listings
The fact that Google has captured such a large portion of the smartphone market makes your business’ Google+ listing crucial. Google Now is directly connected to Google’s suite of services, and most importantly, Google search. So, let’s say there are two businesses: Soho Sushi and Monster Sushi. Soho Sushi has a Google+ page, while Monster Sushi does not. Google Now can respond to fairly nuanced questions, so if a users says “OK, Google, is Soho Sushi open?”, the user’s phone will say “Soho Sushi is open until 12:00 am” since Soho Sushi has a Google+ page. If the same question is asked for Monster Sushi, the user’s phone will simply display a google search result. Since Monster Sushi’s hours are not listed on Google+, Google won’t index them. Although Google Now is closely integrated into Android devices, iPhone and iPad users can have a similar experience if they download Google’s iOS app.
While Google Now makes your Google+ presence crucial, Siri heightens the importance of your Yelp profile. Siri has always integrated Yelp reviews into its own search results, so a user who asks their iPhone for “Italian restaurants near me” will see a list of Italian restaurants and their relevant Yelp reviews. For this reason, make sure to claim and maintain your Yelp page. As new iterations of Siri roll out, it is very likely that it will become just as robust as Google Now, which will make your online presence even more important.
As voice search becomes more refined, customers will use it more. Industry players are pushing to mimic each other and innovate, and their investments and initiatives hint at the longevity of this technology. To optimize your business for voice search, begin by creating Google+ and Yelp listings for your business.