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How Adobe designer Khoi Vinh is bringing voice controls to app development

How Adobe designer Khoi Vinh is bringing voice controls to app development
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


Apps are getting easier to use largely because they’re getting easier to build: Better software enables designers to experiment with user interfaces without having to enlist coders. But so far, these prototyping tools have focused on visual interfaces. What happens if you want to let users talk to your app? “It’s important for [designers] to be as creative as possible with voice from the beginning,” says Khoi Vinh, who spearheaded a feature inside the Adobe XD design tool kit that adds voice controls to any app prototype. The project began three years ago, when Vinh rallied Adobe to acquire a voice-tech startup called Sayspring and incorporate its technology into XD. Today, designers using the program simply need to place an arrow between two of their proposed app screens and type out the voice command (like “show me movies”) that will move users from one screen to the next. The feature launched in late 2018, and a specific kit that allows designers to incorporate Alexa-based voice commands into apps has been downloaded 15,000 times.

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