Voice in Mobile Apps: Gaana
Welcome to a new series that Slang Labs is starting, it’s called ‘Voice in Mobile Apps’. Every week we will take an app which has integrated voice inside it and break it down. We think that it’s important to give recognition to the trendsetters and show how they are adding voice inside their apps and what is the result of it.
This article will talk about one of the largest music streaming services in India, Gaana. It is one of the crown jewels in Times Internet’s kingdom with more than 100 million monthly active users. It has witnessed a nearly 100% year on year growth.
App For Bharat
Gaana offers unlimited and free legal access to 45 million songs across Bollywood, International and 30 Indic languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, English, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Bengali, Assamese & Oriya. In 2016, about 75% of the total music was of Bollywood genre. Now, it’s about 50%. Regional music has grown to 35%, and finally, English music contributes about 15%.
These numbers are not surprising seeing a lot of Gaana’s growth comes from Bharat (Bharat refers to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities). Gaana’s usage growth was the fastest in tier-two cities (96%), followed by tier-one cities (84%) and then tier-three cities (78%).
According to Prashanth Agarwal, CEO of Gaana,
“Today, 22% (now increased to 25%) of our users overall have started using voice search but if you look at the data for [just] new users, that [percentage] is much, much higher. It could be because of convenience,”
“If you look at teenagers on WhatsApp, there’s been a big shift in people [sending] voice messages and not typing them out. For two big user segments, the tier II and tier III customers and the teenagers coming online, the voice will be a very big thing.”
Gaana’s version of Voice Search
Even if the album name is said, Gaana figures out and plays a song from that album
Tap and Play
Perhaps, the most significant difference in search via touch and voice is that when you search via voice, the song is directly played. Whereas in touch, you get a list of choices where you could select the song to be played. When searched via voice, the app automatically matches the utterance to the closest song and plays it. If the utterance doesn’t match to a particular song app plays the closest possible match. Voice search is optimized for voice to action, and it prioritises taking action than being conservative.
Currently, the only function, that works is “play” and you can say different utterances to play a song, for example, artist name like ‘Play Arijit Singh songs’ or a particular genre or mood and the name of the song/album. If any other action verb is used, the system either ignores it or it breaks.
Position of the mic button
Gaana has placed voice search on the first screen and bottom in the app, which makes it accessible and easy to reach. This centric position on the main screen helps in the discovery of the mic button by the user.
Training the user
On clicking the button, are ever-present ‘coach marks’ like, Try saying ‘Play BLOW’, which guides the user to tell the utterance in a particular manner. These suggestions are also personalised to the user.
Traditional Search bar
A traditional search bar is present in the voice search window along with one at the top of the app. In the author's opinion, this has been done for two reasons: First, making sure people who clicked this button after reading ‘search’, can still search by typing. And second, to give the user an alternate option if voice search did not provide the correct result.
Things that can be improved:
Ability to speak in multiple languages which will give better results especially to cater to those 30 languages they serve.
More Voice-enabled features
Ability to do more actions in the app using voice. Eg, Going to my downloaded songs.
Reducing the number of taps
Today it takes two clicks to search via voice, reducing it to one-click by triggering voice search when clicked on it.
Even though Gaana has implemented a very limited use case of searching for songs, it has proved that there is a clear need for Voice inside Mobile apps. Gaana will definitely improve its voice search experience for its customers especially when that feature is seeing such high adoption.
Slang allows you to add voice search in multiple Indian languages in a fraction of the time with inbuilt analytics to gauge how users are using it. It also gives businesses the ability to add more voice-enabled functions quickly to the app.