Reviewing the Voice Recognition Competition: Alexa, Google, Siri and Cortana
26 Jul 2017

26 Jul 2017

Reviewing the Voice Recognition Competition: Alexa, Google, Siri and Cortana

26 Jul 2017

Voice recognition seems to be on everyone’s mind, with all of the major players in the game. But who is really winning this competition?

It’s 5 pm, and you’re sitting in your living room, relaxing and streaming media to your Smart TV with the SURE Universal Remote app.

Out of the blue, your virtual assistant reads a text from a friend out loud, inviting you to dinner. You ask your AI to respond with a “yes,” and order you an Uber while you go upstairs to get ready.

Before you leave, you ask to set an alarm for 7 am the following morning. Your ride arrives, and you head off for dinner.

It sounds like something from a futuristic science fiction film, doesn’t it? But, with the recent growth in artificial intelligence (AI), it’s fast becoming a reality.

When it comes to AI and voice recognition, you have plenty of choices. Between the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa, there is a smart home virtual assistant available for most devices.

Let’s find out more about them.

What Are the Differences Between the Options?

Siri

Siri is the oldest of the virtual assistants, rolled out to iPhone devices in 2011, and now available on desktop Macs too. The system evolved beyond being a voice-activated interface to a key part of the phone’s functionality. Searching for weather reports, travel distances, or sports scores is easy.

On the downside, Siri doesn’t always integrate with non-Apple devices and apps.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant was a Pixel exclusive, but Google is rolling it out to more handsets. The Assistant works with other Google systems and services, such as Google Maps or Gmail.

It’s also able to answer follow up questions. If I ask if it’s sunny in New York, and then “what about Philadelphia?”, Google Assistant understands that I’m still asking about the weather.

Cortana

Microsoft’s Cortana first appeared in Windows 10, though it also works on apps available for Android and iOS. Users who switch between devices will appreciate its ability to work between them.

As a relative newcomer, it handles simple tasks well, but it lacks some of the integrations of its competition. At least it’s available for desktop.

Amazon Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa is most often associated with the Amazon Echo. It answers basic questions with ease, and allows you to play music from your Amazon playlist, or listen to audiobooks on Audible, just by using your voice.

Which Virtual Assistant Is the Smartest?

Stone Temple Consulting asked each virtual assistant 5000 different questions. The company compared the responses with Google search results.

For seeking information, Google Assistant provides the right answers most often. It answered 68.1% of the questions, and 90.6% of those were correct. Compare that to Siri, who answered just 21.7%, and got 62.2% of those responses right.

But the Google Assistant and Cortana both have the advantage of being able to crawl the internet for answers. Perhaps it’s not a fair test.

Business Insider ran tests and found that Google Assistant won when searching for answers such as optimal travel routes, dictating email messages, checking the weather forecast, or translating phrases into other languages.

When checking unread emails, reading recent emails out loud, or making dinner reservations, Siri performed the best.

Alexa Shines in Its Ability to Perform Tasks

By downloading specific skills, Alexa can read out tweets, tell you sports scores, order you an Uber, play music, give weather forecasts, or find out what events are happening in your area.

On the Amazon Echo, Alexa can only read its responses. But it’s also a standalone app and now comes as standard with Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Sticks. Finding your favorite TV show is as simple as asking Alexa to play the next episode.

You can also use Amazon’s Alexa to control your SURE Universal remote app. Tap the three dots in the top corner of the screen and choose “Features.”

Choose Alexa from the options and sign in to your Amazon account. To use Alexa within the SURE app, tap the Alexa option and give your voice command. The first time you use it, Alexa will listen to you, think about her response, and finally speak. Then you can use Alexa to control your smart home through your universal remote.

They may not be Jarvis from the Iron Man movies just yet, but the AI virtual assistants Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant are waiting to help simplify your smart home.

Over to you – which virtual assistant do you prefer, and why?

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