This is War of the Virtual Assistants in 2017. The world is changing fast.
In today’s transitory Life, we have unending to do lists, innumerable questions with countless answers. Our life is literally fleeting, creating chaotic moments at every step. With the increasing use of technology and every application that surrounds it, our daily routine has become one big jumble of numberless virtual involvements. We are so dependent on technology that we may not be able to function without it. The most common problem that the Tech gurus saw us facing was the absence of one single entity handling ALL of our problems. And there, that’s how we got the luxury of accessing a Virtual Assistant. Not just one but several assistants having unique individuality of their own with distinct cutting edge features.
Amongst those assistants, the ones that most commonly dominate our usage are: Siri, Ok Google, Alexa (amazon echo dot) and Cortana. Which then, would you choose out of these assistants, to help with sorting your Life every day? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Apple’s very own – SIRI
The much favored Siri was one of the very first voice-search assistants to enchant us with its features and accessibility. Even after the invention of several other virtual assistants, Siri still doesn’t fail to amuse us-not only with its usability but also the funny yet quick witty answers it gives as a reflex to our, sometimes, unanswerable questions.
Like every tech invention, Siri too has its pros and cons. Talking about the pros, Siri is not only used as a Dictaphone but can also take care of your social network websites by posting your status on Facebook, Twitter, so on and so forth. Now that’s an essential feature for the current generation, your assistant taking care of your tweets and status updates. Similarly, Siri can also send text messages for you. Have a conversation with Siri about the relationship you share with people in your contacts and it will learn to remember them under each relation-tag. Tired of pressing the home button to access Siri? Go hands free by switching on the ‘Hey Siri’ voice command and dig in with your commands. While driving, Siri can act as your own jukebox, just request it to play songs from your playlists and continue driving with your groove on. With the help of certain apps, you can make Siri do reservations for you, make it work like a GPS and also help you with Home Automation to some extent. Additionally, you also have a liberty to choose the sex as well as the accent of your Siri assistant- may it be male or female and American, British or Australian!
As far as cons go, Siri comes with a few of its own. Sadly, Siri has a listening problem to some extent- can’t always decipher what you’re saying in spite of having several accents saved for your perusal. As a result, sometimes you might command one thing but get something completely contrast to your request. The voice assistant also faces problem in listening to your commands, if it is interfered by any other sounds. Hence, you need a pretty mellow and quiet environment to talk to Siri. Furthermore, Siri always needs a very good Wifi or internet connection to function and for the hands free feature, it must always be power cabled. Thus, the only time you can stray away from using the home button is when your phone is jacked in a power slot, which makes the hands free use very limited and restricted. Siri lacks the ability to predict your prospective search requests based on your previous search history, as it is always washed out after each question. Though Siri does text for you, it does not have the capacity to produce automated responses on your behalf.
Unlike assistants like Google and Amazon Alexa, Siri is strictly available to Apple users only. No Apple a day? Sadly, it keeps a Siri away.
The Google Assistant
Yes, assistantS-Plural. Google figured out that we are just too lazy to do anything on our own and thus provided not one but TWO assistants for us, one better than the other. We have the Google Now- which is the google voice assistant and voice search. The second one can be accessed on Google Allo, an assistant available on text that literally solves all your queries. These assistants have a very strong plus point: they are not platform-specific, unlike Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. Google assistants are available on every phone, regardless of it being an android or an iOS one. Both these assistants use your previous search history as a base to predict your future requests.
Google Now, for instance, uses your past actions to understand your likes and dislikes. The app reads out the results of your requests. Furthermore, the request can vary from directions, navigations and routes to all leisure centered places to in depth knowledge based search commands. Thus, it is sort of a non-conversational counterpart of Siri. Unlike Siri, it does not have the potential to have conversations with you at a stretch. Google Now cannot entertain you the way Siri does if at any time of the day you’re bored. To fill in this slot, we now have Google Assistant available on the Google Allo app. This one is basically a step ahead of Google Now. It cannot talk to you, but can complete every single request of yours via text. The assistant can keep talking to you as much as you want and successfully tries to get to know about all of your personal details. It is like having a virtual friend who solves all of your problems! Google allo assistant is so smart, it does not just wait to figure out your likes, dislikes and choices, but literally goes ahead and asks you. Say, you want it to search for restaurants in your vicinity. Google assistant would then ask about the cuisine you want/like, if you’re looking for vegetarian/non-vegetarian, your budget and so on. How convenient is that? In your next search, google assistant knows EXACTLY what you’re looking for.
Apart from this, it performs all the other activities: setting up your alarms, scheduling meetings, setting up reminders, taking care of hardware settings on your device and pulling up information from your Google accounts.
As much as apple users would like to deny, Google assistants are in fact better than Siri. With its end to end knowledge about its users, it performs much better than what Siri can. It does in fact behave like an assistant actually should.
As if Siri and Google assistants weren’t enough, another assistant was added to our Life. The amazon echo dot, popularly known as Alexa – is a platform specific device and by platform I mean that this device is a purchase that you do solely to assist you with your daily Life. This device can quickly access amazon hosted music libraries, place items and shopping carts associated with the echo dot as well as efficiently track your shipment details.
This device reduces your constant use of the phone to set up alarms, reminders, to-do lists, meetings and takes up the job of doing these things for you. Just say Hey Alexa and dictate things you need. To some extent, Alexa also does the job of home automation. Link it with home automation apps and you’re good to go! Just say, Hey Alexa switch off the lights- and she’ll get it done. Smart. She does almost everything for you proving to be a very efficient chatbot. But, alexa also comes with her own set of cons.
Alexa works on the internet and thus slight problem in your internet connection can cause a problem in Alexa’s working i.e she won’t respond to Hey Alexa or any of your questions. Furthermore, she often finds it difficult to understand your commands and thus might misunderstand it and end up doing something totally contrast to your request. Also, she cannot perform multiple tasks at once, she can understand one command at a time.
Regardless of all this, Alexa still continues to win the hearts of all the users wishing to own such a chatbot.
Cortana, just like Siri, is another platform specific voice assistant. This assistant works for Microsoft Windows Phones that helps you just the way an assistant does. Except, virtually.
The plus point of Cortana is that it helps with you with your big searches by providing suggestions based on the information of your previous online activity and search history. Basically, Cortana is personalized- based on the information the user shares. Just like the google assistant, cortana gets to know you on a personal level, thus trying to provide you with the best of services.
Thus, such are these smart devices that help us with almost everything that we do in our life. The ‘internet of things’ though useful, can equally prove tremendously fatal to us, as they have access to everything from our likes and dislikes to even our credit card details. Furthermore, our dependency on these devices is increasing day after day making us dumber by the minute. Some days, it is good to keep them away. On other days, kick off with these chatbots and your daily life is set for a smooth sail! Adios.
An Architect, aspiring visual designer and a passionate writer. In my years of graduation I had a chance to explore and evolve as a designer and focus on how versatile a professional can get. I hope to excel in the field of user experience design as well as continue with my interest in expressing myself through the art of writing.