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Smart Assistants: How Intelligent are they?

A look at the top smart assistants of today and their purpose in society

A lot of thought is put in to everyone’s lives daily, but now with the rise of virtual assistants, a new question is considered: How much trust should we put into these devices?

The three most used virtual assistants of this age are Siri (paired with Apple devices), Google Assistant (paired with Google devices), and Alexa (paired with Amazon devices). They all have similar feature, but they each stand out in their own way despite the rapid updates made to them daily.

In order to analyze this, I had to take a look at how each device fared in different categories: General Knowledge, Music, Entertainment, and Voice Recognition.


General Knowledge

Now that we are in the day and age where people no longer look to books to learn stuff or answer questions, these virtual assistants have been a crucial part on figuring out answers with a simple “OK Google” or “Hey Siri”.

The Google Assistant proved to be a clear winner in this category. It generally gave context and sourced for the answers given and provided straight forward responses. Of course, this makes sense due to the large search database of Google. However, the Google Home’s assistant was not able to answer a few questions. For example, when checking out what time a tv show would be on air, it returned important information but couldn’t retrieve the info i needed. Amazingly, it was able to collect many different recipes when asked on how to make mac and cheese or gave me precise numbers when finding the distance to the Moon.

While the world-famous iphones have been around for a while, the Siri assistant often could not answer questions. Frequently, it would just return a bunch of websites of a google search. The Google Home’s and Echo Dot’s assistants gave fast answers and speak back which is definitely convenient for all users.


Music

Each virtual assistant gives the option of connecting with a music service in order to play the song when you ask for it. Unless you pay for Apple Music or have the song downloaded in your library, Siri will respond with a snippet of the song from Google. Alexa and Google Assistant both allow the user to connect Spotify, Pandora, or Google Play (specifically for Google). This is great because even if you don't have the money to subscribe the Spotify Premium, you can enjoy a radio station of the artist or type of the song you request.

It was very hard to see the difference between Google and Alexa, but Google often found the right song even if you didn’t list the artists. Since the Google Home and Echo devices have built in speakers, the volume was more than enough to fill my room with whatever i wanted to hear. With the capability to pair with bluetooth speakers, all three devices (Echo, Iphone, and Google Home) could provide party time in your home.


Entertainment

One of the coolest features to look forward to is the home entertainment integration by the virtual assistants. Alexa allows all users to open apps and pause all play movies using the FireTV Stick. Using chromecast, one can use the Google Assistant to navigate through many different shows and figure out what they want. Both Alexa and Google Assistant control devices wirelessly quickly during movie night.

Siri unfortunately cannot control videos on your iPhone but the AppleTv has Siri built, giving you the same features as FireTV and Chromecast. Unfortunately, you need to use the appleTV remote to speak to Siri which makes it hard to use at all times.

When attempting to purchase tickets to a nearby movie, Alexa used my voice to reserve seats in Fandango, but this was completely unnecessary and took way longer than buying using a computer. Google Assistant gave showtimes but could not purchase tickets. Siri did not understand what I was saying at all.


Voice Recognition

Finding a reliable assistant that responds quickly to requests is important. I tested each device to see whether or not each assistant could understand my question. Google Assistant was the best, able to understand me in the first or second attempt. Alexa require dme often to rephrase my question and Siri often did not hear me and made me type the request.

It is hard to incorporate multiple assistants and people in the same house. Both Google Home and Amazon Echo now offer multiple voice profiles, where you can train different family members and personalize your device with calendar dates and reminders.

Apple’s Siri takes a special approach in making sure that only the one user of the device can say “Hey Siri” and access personal information. This security allows Siri to be a strong contender.



The following table shows the ranking of the devices in each category:

Category Google Alexa Siri
General Knowledge 3 2 1
Music 3 2 1
Entertainment 2 3 1
Voice Recognition 3 1 2
Total 11 8 5

Google is clearly one of the most advanced virtual assistants of this age and its Google Home devices support this claim.


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Tagged in : Virtual Assistant

Shashank Sridhar Image

Shashank Sridhar

Shashank Sridhar is a junior at Fremont High School. He has an avid interest in advancements in the field of technology, and he loves to apply computer science to physics. He also loves to build augmented reality apps in his free time.