Over the last year, artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistants have become BIG!! The leading ones are (alphabetically): Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Microsoft, Google Assistant, and Siri from Apple. These AI options can answer questions, play music, give directions, tell jokes, and even play games (try Jeopardy on Alexa).
How good are they? For this stage in their development, they are very good and relatively accurate for the simple tasks in which they specialize — and they can be fun to use. But they do each have limitations and their evolving software updates will continue to get better. In addition, there may be security issues that occur now. [Read this article for more on security.]
Recently, Jeff Dunn, writing for Business Insider, did an excellent comparison of these four virtual assistants:
“As the Web diminishes and the Amazon Echo [Alexa] continues to be a runaway hit, all the big players are convinced that talking to an AI will soon become the dominant way we interact with our computers. So they’ve started building. Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google has the new and refreshed Google Assistant. The tech has come a long way, but all of these companies openly admit that it’s very early days for this proposed future. As such, all of these assistants are far from polished. But they’re also things you can use today. So which one works best? I strapped in for eight hours of robot conversations to find out, testing each of the big four assistants across a variety of categories.”
“There is a ton of work to be done. The problems here are large and sweeping: Each assistant still feels like a fragile, thinly veiled web of loosely connected services — because that’s what they are. It’s almost impossible to tell when one of them won’t be able to do the thing you asked. You have to be OK giving up your location and loads of personal data to get the most out of them. There are numerous instances where using a Web browser is simply faster for doing fundamental tasks. Each one is still wildly finicky when it comes to phrasing. They all think too much in black and white; one misplaced or forgotten word is often enough to discard an entire request.”
Here are some of Dunn’s comparative findings:
- Best for travel — Google Assistant
- Best for E-mailing — Google Assistant and Siri
- Best for messaging — All four in different scenarios
- Best for Music — Alexa
- Best for weather — Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant
- Best for social — Alexa, Cortana, Siri
- Best for general knowledge — Alexa
Click the image to read a lot more from Dunn.
6 Replies to “Comparing AI Virtual Assistants”
It is interesting to see just how far these AI Virtual Assistants have come nearly 3 years since this post was written. I received an Amazon Alexa as a Graduation gift and at first, I was skeptical of it. Now that I have used it for around 4 months I couldn’t imagine not having it. I find myself wanting to ask Alexa simple questions when I am not near it such as “do I need a coat” or “set a timer for 5 minutes.” It has become second nature to ask her these simple questions. She is not a personal assistant to the extent of easing my workload but it has made the little things easier.