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I have been thinking about whether conversational interfaces are becoming more common due to the fact that we haven't really solved the problem of the small viewing area on mobile devices conflicting with the need for larger target/touch areas, or if it is really due to the improvement in AI and machine learning that supports voice controlled/driven interfaces.

Of course, it is probably a net result of competing forces, but I wonder if this was the natural solution or if some other design solution might have solved this problem more elegantly due to the change in behaviour required for conversational interface designs as well.

Is there any research or evidence that shows the inability for touch/gesture design solutions to overcome the small screen space being more of an issue rather than the emergence of AI/machine learning as a viable alternate solution as the reason why conversational interface is trending?

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Like you, I have been looking for articles or research that can tell me why conversational AI interfaces are in trend. I didn't find that but I did notice one very prominent thing that is driving this kinda interface and that is personality.

Since the invention of computers, there have been two main questions that has driven the improvements:

  1. How can something be done with lesser time & effort?
  2. How can it feel more like a real being?

The ultimate goal of AI and machine learning is to build a computer that responds and reacts like a human being.

Chats are the new interface, and bubbles and skills the new apps - Kaave Pour, SPACE10

Conversation is the first step of making a computer feel like less of a machine. In a presentation, Kaave mentioned that people are responding more to personalized and impressionable interfaces pushing applications to a more chat-like interface. And especially with Android introducing the mini-app feature in its new OS version, the number of apps people use everyday is reducing which in turn is increasing the time spent on each app (which generally tend to be social/messaging apps like Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, etc. This leads to people preferring a conversational interface with simple bubble-like actions and less doodads.

In conversational UI, personality is the new UX - Aysha Akbar, Mimetic.ai

Personal Assistants are more or less apps that do the exact actions that we used to do like open emails, respond to them, set a reminder, take notes. But now, with this coming in a conversational tone, it feels like the computer is having its own personality (better yet as it is confined to the particular user's preferences)

Voice assistants will bring smart homes to the next level. - Paul Soon, Huawei

AI Assistant developers are using the conversational UI (which is simple and hassle-free) as the bridge that gets us to the future; voice assistants. Which, as of now, are able to understand the user's voice, vernacular and even pet peeves.

Pretty neat if you ask me. Conversational UI, being clean and simple, is being used to break down a much more complicated problem and find answers one step at a time. I don't think sub-par touch UI design is to blame (although this very well may become an excuse)

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  • Conversation is how people prefer to interact with each other, so why should the computer be any different? Let's just hope they don't get too good at it. – user67695 Oct 27 '17 at 15:24

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