Tech giants Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, are all currently offering intelligent virtual assistants, which respond to voice commands or keystrokes to do a whole range of different everyday tasks.
Apple’s Siri debuted first in 2011, so it’s the most well known, but now faces stiff competition from Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa to be the top intelligent virtual assistant in the market.
Theoretically, they are very similar, and yet, their developers had different goals in mind when they worked on them. There is a whole range of things a VI assistant can do, and not all of them are good at everything. From looking for directions to booking a flight, they all have pros and cons.
How well do they fare with different languages and accents?
Siri, Cortana, and Google Now run on smartphones and other devices all over the world, meaning they can certainly understand a broad range of languages and accents, while Alexa is only available in the United States as of right now.
Although these personal voice systems are designed to learn and adapt to every user’s accent and speech patterns, improving more and more as days pass, Google Now has proved to be the most capable of coping with complex accents like the ones in Great Britain (i.e. Scottish, Irish, etc.).
But according to Apple, Siri speaks more languages than the others. Siri is also the most versatile, being able to respond questions ranging from weather to nearby places or even looking for flights.
Unlike Cortana and Google Now, Apple’s voice buddy is great with colloquial language and slang, Making conversations with Siri is more human-like.
But what can an intelligent virtual assistant do?
By saying “Hey, Siri” do this or do that, it can schedule meetings, check the calendar and make appointments, write and send emails as well as reading the most recent ones. Google Now could only read the latest email, while Alexa cannot write emails nor create calendar events.
Alexa is the best in music closely followed by Apple’s option. Both virtual assistants can play a determined song, put on a podcast and play music from specific genres. The difference is that Alexa can play music from different stations on Pandora, whereas Siri can only use iTunes library.
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On the other hand, Google Now excels at travel-related tasks, showing users maps to places, giving voice directions to get there and determining how long the trip will take. Google assistant can easily find restaurants and even order delivery food. It also provides complete flight information like time, date, and cost.
Cortana, lacking on all fronts, can offer traffic reports and give directions but not flight info. Finally, Alexa helps the driver with simple traffic estimates for only one prefixed location and if users want to search for flights it simply adds the task to their to-do list as a reminder.
Regarding sports, Google, Cortana, and Siri can load scores; only the first two can give details about a particular game with Siri simply being able to provide the date and venue. Alexa couldn’t offer any information on the matter.
Facebook’s M and Viv coming soon
Although it seems like the most capable of all virtual assistants, being able to do better in all of the before mentioned, Facebook’s M is not entirely virtual, so it might not be as fast as the others.
Viv, in turn, was created by the same developers who sold Siri to Apple, and it reportedly has the same voice command capabilities as its competitors, but it’s still in the making. Like the others, Viv can be connected to third-party services, with 50 already onboard.
Siri is integrated with every iOS device (Apple TV, iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.) and works with other Apple apps, including Apple’s CarPlay for vehicle voice support.
Google Now is also on the driving scene with Android Auto and can control the Google Search app. Wireless speaker Amazon Echo comes with Alexa built-in and has dived into smart home initiatives while Cortana is working with other apps on Windows devices and with the new browser Microsoft Edge.
Source: The New York Times