World News:

Walmart launches Voice Ordering on Google Assistant
The battle for Voice Commerce continues as Walmart recently announced that trial consumers could now order directly from its Google Assistant Action. Neither Walmart nor Google wants to let Amazon take the lead in the promising Voice Commerce. The interesting part is that the Walmart Google Action is a (shopping) assistant within an assistant. That way the retailer could control the user experience as well as the data it collects. Link (Voicebot)

Alexa ventures into the Healthcare space in the U.S.
The Alexa Skill Kit (ASK) is now HIPAA compliant, meaning an Alexa skill can now transmit and receive protected health information. This is a significant milestone for Alexa and voice assistants when it comes to healthcare. In conjunction with HIPAA certification, Amazon announced the launch of a variety of skills allowing to check the status of a prescription being sent, schedule an appointment, upload data such as blood sugar reading and receive personalized insights to name a few use cases. Expect to see many more healthcare voice experiences flourishing in the future. Link (Alexa Blog)

Google preparing the ground for advertising on its assistant?
When users ask their Google Home or Android device to help them find a local service provider, the Moutain View company draw its recommendations from a list of pre-approved businesses. Those are part of a program called Google Guarantee Program. If you the best rated or closest but are not a member of the program, you won’t be mentioned. While the businesses aren’t technically paying to be part of the search results, the program is clearly linked to Google ads. Looks like someone is preparing the ground to start monetizing ads. Link (Mashable)

Amazon is planning an Airpod rival
The e-commerce giant has plans for wireless earbuds in the second part of the year. Those will be in direct competition with Apple’s AirPods and will have Alexa built-in, therefore giving the company a chance to really take Alexa mobile. Link (Bloomberg)

European News:

Just like Walmart, French retailer Intermarché launches Voice Shopping on Google Assistant
Innovations don’t only happen in the United States. French shoppers could also enjoy voice experiences thanks to the Intermarché Google Action. The action is more than the usual shopping list and allows users to order and later collect at the “Drive”, a place dedicated to collect orders placed online. Link (Journal de la Voix – in French)

Fernand, a Voice Assistant for French farmers
Available both on smartphones as well as smart speakers, Fernand is a voice assistant dedicated to farmers and that provides simple answers by compiling massive amounts of data (market prices, weather forecast, work done on fields…etc. related to farming. The goal is to help farmers save time and help them with decision making. Another use case where a voice assistant dedicated to a specific vertical is bringing value. Link (French Ministry of Agriculture – in French)

Alexis Hue

Alexis Hue

Alexis is the founder of Voice & You, a boutique consulting agency where he advises brands on how to utilize Voice to increase their competitive advantage. Part-time venture capitalist, part-time entrepreneur, and originally from France, Alexis now lives in Berlin.