Tech Talk: Alexa to Bixby: How ‘command’ing are digital virtual assistants?

‘Hey Siri, how’s the weather outside?’ ‘Alexa, turn on the room lights’. Or ‘Hey Google, set a reminder for 4.30 pm today’.

Very common and regularly heard voice commands these days, isn’t it? The ease of operating these virtual personal assistants have made them an integral part of our smartphones. Be it Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or Samsung Bixby, these virtual assistants are not the one-time use gimmicky applications that they used to be.

The fact that these digital virtual assistants can perform simple tasks like set up an alarm, create and send text messages, get daily news briefing automatically, check flight reservations, play music, make personalised dining suggestions and reservations, control your smart devices and more with just a voice command, make them an exciting feature for the user.

The success and failures of these digital assistants is directly dependant on how well they are integrated with the ecosystem that we are using. Let us take a quick look at these applications:

Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa is growing in popularity and can be found on Amazon’s products like smart home speakers and some third party devices. From controlling your IoT enabled products like smart lights, fridge, ovens to shopping online, playing music on your phone, or speakers, Alexa can do it all.

Alexa’s smartphone application is nowhere as powerful as Siri or Google Assistant, however, it works like a charm if you have products from Amazon’s ecosystem like Echo speakers etc. Also, purchasing Amazon’s Echo devices means an additional expense hence Alexa’s reach is limited as of now.

Siri

Siri, a first of its kind app, was made available on iOS back in 2010 before being acquired by Apple and was integrated in iPhones and iPads, the year after. Snap back to the current scenario, Siri can respond to your queries, control your smart appliances, and help you manage day to day activities with ease. It has become smarter too.

Though Siri works like a charm with all the Apple devices like iPhone, iPads, MacBook, and apple TV etc, like Alexa, even Siri is limited to Apple’s ecosystem. Most of Apple’s own ecosystem devices are a costly affair.

Google Assistant

Google’s Assistant is by far the most used, accurate and powerful virtual assistant. Though Google started slightly later than Apple but since it comes pre-installed on all the Android devices, its reach is way beyond any other assistant.

It is known to offer accurate and personalised results based on your usage, search patterns, access to emails, contacts and messages etc. Though, Google last year showcased how your virtual assistant can make or receive calls for you, which is both exciting and scary at the same time, however, it opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities.

One of the only aspects where the Google Assistant lags behind Siri is probably its ability to work seamlessly on all devices with different form factors. And heck it’s even available for iOS.

Bixby

Bixby is relatively new to the scene and like Siri, it is limited to Samsung’s devices. Apart from Samsung’s phone Bixby is now available only on Samsung’s Bixby speaker which was launched sometime back.

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