voice user interface

What’s the difference between a voice assistant and a voice user interface (VUI)?

What’s the difference between a voice assistant and a voice user interface (VUI)? 1800 1200 VUX World

Voice assistants and voice user interfaces (VUIs) are used interchangeably under the banner of ‘voice’. But what’s the difference between the two?

Voice assistants have a voice interface, but voice interfaces aren’t always an interface to a voice assistant. Click To Tweet

What is a voice assistant?

Google defines voice assistance as:

“Engaging with intelligent technology using voice as the method of input (e.g. a digital assistant like Google Assistant.”

Google's definition of voice search vs voice assistance

Image used with permission from @andy_head, CEO, Adido

WhatIs/Tech Target defines a voice assistant as:

“a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, natural language processing and speech synthesis to provide aid to users through phones and voice recognition applications”

The key word there is ‘aid’. A voice assistant aids and assists users in whatever it is they need assistance with, using speech as the primary method of receiving requests and responding.

That could be assisting you in accessing your calendar schedule, assisting you in finding a podcast, helping you get the news and even navigating through the apps on your phone, as we witnessed with the Google Assistant announcements at Google I/O ’19.

A key component of a voice assistant is the ability for it to access lots of different pieces of information from lots of different sources and funnel it all through one place.

For example, with Alexa, you can access you calendar, send SMS messages, book train tickets, order pizza and check your bank balance. Lots of information from lots of sources, all pulled through one place and accessed via voice.

Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Houndify, Mycroft, these are all examples of voice assistants.

What is a voice user interface?

Amazon defines a voice user interface (VUI) as something that:

“… allows people to use voice input to control computers and devices.”

A VUI, then, is an access point, in the same way a screen is an access point to a graphical user interface (GUI).

A voice interface is a front-end. A way of interacting with software with your voice, instead of tapping or typing.

For example, Spotify has just launched voice enabled ads in the US:


At the end of the ad, listeners can say ‘play now’ to play the advertised playlist. Using your voice to interact with the software instead of tapping. It’s not an ‘assistant’, it’s an ‘interface’.

Voice assistants have a voice interface, but voice interfaces aren’t always an interface to a voice assistant.

Hopefully that’ll help clear things up next time you read or talk about voice.

All about Pindrop, VUI design and VUI tuning with Simonie Wilson

All about Pindrop, VUI design and VUI tuning with Simonie Wilson 1800 1200 VUX World

This week, we take a look at the similarities between VUI design for IVR and VUI design for voice assistants. We also explain what VUI tuning is and why it’s important, whilst giving you some tips on how you can tune your voice user interface. We also discuss PinDrop and voice first security. read more

My first 30 days as a VUI designer with Ilana Shalowitz and Brian Bauman

My first 30 days as a VUI designer with Ilana Shalowitz and Brian Bauman 1800 1200 VUX World

Today, we’re getting into detail about what it’s like to be a full-time VUI designer. We’re discussing the details of the role, the day to day duties and the skillsets that are important to succeed in designing voice user interfaces. read more