Digital Personal Assistants: Whose is Best?
April 28, 2018
Sci-fi movies have always depicted artificial intelligence as some all-destructive super smart piece of technology looking to take over the world, a perfect example being Terminator. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to real life modern AI. Artificial Intelligence is used in many ways to help with day to day life, and while we haven’t perfected the self-reliant robot, there are certainly some services which seem self-thinking.
Digital personal assistants have become popular over the past few years, particularly since the invention of the smart phone. These services are available on your mobile device, but live in “the cloud”, helping to organize schedules, turn on and off apps, and a variety of other helpful tasks. The most common use for these digital assistants is answering questions, vocally. Questions asked include those regarding cooking recipes, travel information such as flight times and hotel bookings, as well as general queries about historical facts or math equations.
Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are considered the top AI virtual assistants in the world, and yet there are plenty of things that set them apart aside from brand origination. Any mobile phone, tablet, and PC owner can use their designated AI assistant to open programs, search for information online, or even control a playlist and volume on command. These digital companions have been featured on commercials, in television programs, like The Big Bang Theory, and many other facets of the media, making them not only widely used, but widely known and recognized the world over.
So, what sets these programs apart and who’s on top now? Stone Temple, an online digital marketing agency performed a study on virtual assistants in 2017 to see which was favored and why, recently the company conclude a 2018 follow up, using Cortana, Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for Home and Smart Phone. They tested each AI platform on nearly 5-thousand different queries, and this is what they learned.
Google Assistant: Having access to the world’s vastest search engine knowledge data base, Google Assistant certainly holds an edge over the competition when it comes to gaining access to information. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that GA took the information round by storm, proving to be the most thorough and accurate AI for answering user questions. Cortana came in second with Alexa and Siri trailing behind. Each AI platform showed significant improvement over the previous year’s testing, but Google remains on top.
Google Assistant is available on Android devices, and unlike some competitors like Siri, Google Assistant offers the unique service of voice recognition. This is a service shared by Amazon’s Alexa, and it allows the AI to determine who is speaking to it, rather than answering to just anybody who speaks into your device. Google also lets you play music from just about any resource available to it, while other AI operators like Siri, will only play from designated resources, like iTunes.
Siri: She’s fallen behind in many categories used by virtual assistants, but she still ranks as one of the top AI services around. This could be due to the all-encompassing popularity of Apple products in general, but it can also be said that Siri has improved in leaps and bounds in terms of answering questions. Siri also scores high in sending and receiving calls, easily answering or placing a call when commanded. These simple commands are where Siri excels while competitors like GA and Alexa have surpassed her in other available features and progressive responses.
In fact, Siri kicks the butts of competitors where home control commands are concerned. Unlike Alexa, who doesn’t yet support all of the features and commands of smart home devices, Siri is easily connected and can be commanded to turn up the thermostat or start the washing machine with a simple voice command, so long as everything is connected as it should be. Alexa, on the other hand, struggled with this and requires additional connections and commands to operate everything in your smart home.
Alexa: Owned and operated by Amazon, who has been climbing the internet charts in leaps and bounds to become the top ecommerce distributer, Alexa is much like its parent company, a go-getter. Alexa can help you operate your music, make calls, answer calls, answer questions, access information on your phone, organize your schedule, and do all of this with voice recognition software, which allows it to differentiate you from friends, family and coworkers.
As mentioned above, Alexa still has some work to do where smart home commands are concerned, but overall it has been deemed, “most improved” in this year’s marketing testing, and may surprise us next year with even more improvements.
Cortana: Microsoft’s Cortana is often forgotten and left behind in the razzle dazzle of its competitor AI services, but it has some potential of its own. For example, Cortana can interact with you and follow commands from not just your mobile phone or computer, but also your Xbox gaming system and any other Microsoft product in your home. Just because it aids in the operation of your gaming system, it doesn’t make Cortana a slacker; in fact, Cortana is probably the most business-friendly AI service on the market. It directly correlates with Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Explorer, PowerPoint, and more.
So, which AI service is best as a virtual assistant? While it comes down to preference for the most part, it seems at the moment that Google Assistant is in the lead. By how much? That depends on what’s important to you in a virtual assistant.