What is the future of text- and voice-based communication?

The Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA) estimates that only 47 percent of mobile users globally are using their phone solely for texting or talking. By 2030, this number is expected to shrink to just 29 percent.

With the growing influence of social media and the many other uses that phones are becoming capable of, what can we expect for the future of communication? There are pros and cons for both text messaging and voice messaging, meaning that although one may grow in popularity, it is likely that both will continue in some fashion.

Text messaging is useful for its casual nature—there is no pressure to reply instantly or read straight away. Receiving or sending a text message is something that can be completed and then put down. The information is stored in one place and can be easily looked back upon. On top of the ease of use, text messaging now incorporates a lot of additional features. Sending pictures or videos along with messages is a popular way to stay in touch with friends and family, and share with them things of interest. While this could arguably fall into a voice messaging category, sending picture messages and video messages is more commonly found associated with text messaging. One of the downsides of text messaging is that although texts can be written clearly, there is room for the misunderstanding of meaning or tone. A text message saying: “Okay,” could literally mean something is okay, or it could have an implied meaning that is lost in the form of text messaging. The idea of tone and meaning is something that translates better in voice messaging, as you can hear and gauge one's voice. In summary, text messaging has a lot of uses; it is fast, reliable, informative, and casual. However, there are situations in which voice messaging trump text messaging.

Voice messaging can often seem a lot scarier than text messaging. For someone who isn’t used to it, the thought of hearing your own voice recordings, or having to make quick-fire answers can be daunting. However, it is more personal and easier to interpret. Not only this, but things such as video calling make voice messaging a very personal experience. Nowadays, calling someone usually means business. If someone is calling you, it generally implies that they are after something right away, or have something serious to discuss—something that can’t be jotted down into a text message. This is something that younger generations are not as used to—something that still makes a lot of people nervous. For many people, receiving or initiating a voice message brings an actual psychological discomfort. Aside from the intimidation of picking up the phone, voice messaging has unlocked incredible opportunities to communicate with loved ones around the world. One can call a friend or family member abroad and hear their voice instantly—maybe even see their face through video messaging. The possibilities of communication are virtually endless, something that will only continue to develop as technology improves. The authenticity of voice messaging, despite it being labelled as archaic sometimes, is the best way to communicate purposefully and have the nearest thing to face-to-face communication with another human as possible.

As we move into an age where technology dominates most industries in addition to everyday life, it will be interesting to see how communication develops. Personal preference often dictates this battle; some people will stick away from voice messaging, while others may encourage it wherever possible. There are practical uses for both in different situations. In an age where weaving between the physical and digital world becomes more seamless, perhaps there will be a solution to blending text and voice messaging ahead that we cannot see. This is a topic that industries involved communication will be especially interested in as technology evolves and progresses.