GLOBAL: Almost half of smartphone users around the world use their device's voice technology at least once a month while around one third do so on a weekly basis, according to a new study.

The global version of the Speak Easy voice tech report from J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group and Mindshare Futures was based on a combination of neuroscience experiment, ethnography, focus groups, expert interviews and a survey of 6,780 smartphone owners across nine countries (UK, US, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Japan, Australia, China and Singapore).

Around half (45%) of regular voice users (at least once a week) said they used voice technology because it's faster whilst a third (35%) used it when they were feeling lazy and couldn't be bothered to type.

Further, seven in ten regular users said that speaking to tech now comes naturally, although many prefer to do so in private spaces rather than in public.

Cultural differences play a role here, the report noted. In Japan, for example, 72% of regular voice users said they would feel too embarrassed to use voice technology in public, compared to 57% globally.

Spain, at only 47%, showed the lowest level of embarrassment at using voice in public; Spanish people were in fact the most likely to use voice "while walking down the street" – at 51% compared to the global average of 31%.

Currently, online searches (60%) and finding information on products (53%) are the most common tasks carried out by regular users, followed by asking questions (50%), asking for directions (42%), finding information on a brand or company (41%) and playing music (41%).

Other less common tasks included checking travel information (29%), setting alarms (28%), checking news headlines (24%) and home management tasks (14%).

Voice technology will "inevitably" become more ubiquitous, the report said, as it found a significant appetite for more voice-enabled devices.

For example, more than two thirds of global smartphone users were interested in the prospect of voice-activated televisions (69%) and light switches (66%), while almost half (45%) were interested in the idea of chatting to their fridges.

Data sourced from J Walter Thomson Intelligence; additional content by WARC staff