Amazon seems to be everywhere these days. That includes the world of virtual and artificial intelligent assistants.
Alexa can easily handle what you might expect in terms of answering some of the general questions you might otherwise search Google like weather, train times or popular songs. Where it’s perhaps most interesting Alexa Skills where developers can integrate with Alexa opening up a world of possibilities like booking taxies, ordering take-out food, playing music from Spotify, accessing audiobooks, podcasts and more.
It works great in the home in the form of an Echo and can be integrated with smart lighting, heating and other internet of things technology. It can also be a support to less able bodied or mobile people who can use the voice commands to make calls and check information easily. The only real downside versus some of the other AI assistants might be that’s it’s not available as easily in other forms like smartphone. If you’re already in the Amazon eco-system with services like prime and want to streamline your experience, Alexa is potentially a great option.
Microsoft has really upped it’s game in recent years. They’ve also shifted to a very open approach to their services making software and products available on all the main operating platforms. In line with this their AI assistant Cortana comes with Windows 10, but is also available on iOS and Android. This makes it available across most of the devices you could potentially use.
Cortana is certainly a quality AI service and can help with any of the expected queries such as checking the weather, travel information, restaurant searches and other useful resources. Where it’s not quite as strong is its wider integration with apps and third parties. However, if you’re looking for a good virtual assistant to work for you on all your devices it’s it will do a reasonable job.
Google is another company that seems to be taking over the world. Well the digital world at least. Google Assistant was originally a pixel phone only service and Google has never totally clarified where Google now and Google Assistant fit in their future thinking.
Ultimately Google is a very competent AI service and if you’re already a big user of Google’s products and services eco-system it will certainly give you most of what you want backed up by the world’s most prolific search service.
Google Assistant handles all the usual queries you would expect to find through Google search and is even adept at follow up questions and accessing your gmail for a personal experience. It’s got great access and natural language processing, but like the other artificial intelligence assistants it still feels like just the beginning of the potential.
You have to hand it to Apple for being the first to add a voice enabled assistant to a smartphone. Siri is still better at answering basic questions and often seems to struggle sooner than some of the other options, particularly Google Assistant. Arguably a good thing due to Apple’s aim to put user privacy ahead of quietly collecting data in the background. Siri will usefully find you answers to basic queries that you might have day to day and it’s now also available on MacOS.
The introduction of Apple home and home kit is also a great progression forward particularly with Apple TV integration although it’s limitations around device support and accessory control are worth noting.
If you want access across a range of different devices, operating systems and potential for lots of integration then Apple Siri is probably not for you, but if you’re an Apple fan and locked into their world you may not want to look anywhere else.