Forget pushing phone buttons or typing into keyboards to access apps, play your music, or more importantly make calls. Thanks to a rapidly growing digital assistant marketplace and voice-activated technology advancements, you can subsequently do all this plus much more by simply talking into your device.
Gone is the era of touch as the standard user interface; as it notably and gradually conceding to a new and totally different era of digital assistants and voice. Now, consumers can engage with various search engines on a relatively deeper level, not to mention more meaningful ways.
In the current market, consumers are utilizing voice search to perform multiple actions, including getting directions, shopping, booking travel, making reservations, and much more.
The digital assistant marketplace was predicted to hit USD 8.9 billion between 2017 and 2023 as per the MRFR (Market Research Future) report, and looking at it over the years; it is well on that course. Several factors are thrusting the digital assistant marketplace growth.
According to the MRFR report, the factors include increased investment in the smart homes and IoT technology, increased usage of smart speakers in residential applications, growing mobile personnel, not to mention an increase in the outsourcing trend.
Moreover, other factors also include increased social media popularity, increased customer engagement focus, as well as big data analytics and cloud applications use, and popularity.
To boost customer satisfaction as well as increase revenue, firms across the globe are revising several consumer experience policies. This is also likely to boost the demand for digital assistants.
This excerpt will seek to define digital assistants, their basic operations, standard features, as well as the top digital assistants in 2019 and how they compare.
What Are Digital Assistants?
In simple terms, digital assistants are computer programs which aid users by performing basic tasks as well as answering questions. This technology is fundamentally transforming how people live, not to mention how brands are engaging with their clients. In 2019, this has massively influenced the standard means of communicating.
Digital assistants have moved from just offering a necessary response and request features. From playing music to placing online orders and even turning lights on, they are transforming how brands are subsequently engaging with clients.
Moreover, social media platforms are also using digital assistants for monitoring and tracking accounts, collecting, organizing and storing data, and promoting content in significantly presentable manners.
What Can Digital Assistants Do?
Despite the available digital assistants boasting unique features, all share several similarities and can effectively perform these essential tasks:
- Read and send text messages and emails, as well as make a phone call.
- Answer some basic information questions (what is the time? how many tones does an elephant weigh?).
- Make lists, set reminders, as well as perform necessary arithmetic calculations.
- Set alarms, calendar entries, and timers.
- Control various media playback from services connected like Google Play, Pandora, Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes.
- Control different IoT-enabled gadgets like lights, locks, thermostats, and alarms.
- Tell jokes.
All assistant boasts its own exclusive features, although their foundation functions are virtually similar. Digital assistants can respond to a relatively more significant number of questions and commands.
Popular Digital Assistants to Check Out In 2019.
Only several decades back, holding a meaningful conversation with computers seemed a futuristic idea. However, the technology of enhancing voice interfaces and making them useful as well as extensively available is here already!
Various consumer-level devices created over in the last couple of years have introduced remarkable inexpensive and useful assistants into daily use with more platforms and features finding their way into the market every time.
The most popular digital assistants in the 2019 marketplace include Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Cortana, and here is everything you need to know about them.
Siri, by Apple, has been in existence the longest having made its debut into the market in 2010 (standalone app) and later in 2011 being incorporated into their operating system (iOS).
Cortana from Microsoft shortly followed with its release in 2013, while Amazon released the Alexa later in 2014. As for the Google Assistant, it was released in 2016.
- Alexa (Amazon)
Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, is fantastic for managing everyday things, especially around the house. In particular, when integrated with the necessary devices, you can use voice commands to perform actions such as asking for the weather, adjusting the thermostat or lighting, or just getting the answers to various questions you may have.
Even better, Alexa is perfectly designed to purchase things from Amazon, subsequently ship them, not to mention tracking them-always getting real-time updates on your various purchases.
- Compatible with numerous non-Amazon devices
- Features multiple add-on integrations to help manage your (smart) home
- Facilitate online purchases
- Siri (Apple)
Apple’s Siri is among the first digital assistants, and is available on most Apple gadgets, although it works best primarily with iPads and iPhones. Siri is ideal at facilitating effective communication with your contacts, boasts fantastic organizing capabilities, and is also a great way to book reservations and finding directions.
- Excellent balance of availability on mobile and home gadgets
- Fantastic messaging and calling functions (mainly on mobile)
- Superior reminder functions
- Google Assistant (Google)
A product of Internet superpower Google, Google Assistant, is a remarkable piece of technology. With the backing of the biggest search engine in the world, Google Assistant is perfect for finding static data to information which updates in real-time.
- Fantastic information-finding capabilities
- Surprisingly great online shopping abilities
- Works well to keep pace with dynamic (real-time) information
- Cortana (Microsoft)
Courtesy of computer giant company, Cortana, this digital assistant specializes in various productivity functions such as enhanced reminder system as well as its knack for integrating well with other Microsoft services in coordinating your email and work.
Moreover, besides that, it also boasts a beautiful personality, not to mention that it can sing and tell you some jokes, and playing some cool games on your request.
- Great reminder functions that include events that involve specific individuals
- Available on multiple devices – Android, iOS, or Windows
- Integrates effectively with other services owned by Microsoft like Office, Outlook
Now that you have an idea of what each of these digital assistants, below are some key features of these digital assistants, how they compare, and which the best digital assistant is in 2019.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Digital Assistant and How These Assistants Compare:
This is among the most basic digital assistant features and one of the essential elements to look for. How quickly does an assistant get information like flight times, measurements not to mention how relevant the information it presents is.
Typically, all these assistants utilize their search engines in finding your answers. Nonetheless, they are all based on accredited search engines. Cortana and Alexa use Microsoft’s distinct search engine, Bing. Siri previously used Bing, although it is now using Google Search. As for Google Assistant, it obviously uses Google Search.
Based on multiple evaluations, the most accurate responses come from Google Assistant and Alexa, when tested with general knowledge questions. Nonetheless, Google Assistant effectively provides answers to niche questions inclusive of additional links and sources; with Cortana and Siri performing relatively poorly in this category, either plainly admitting having no response to the questions, or usually just doing some quasi-relevant Internet searches which you are to pick.
Stone Temple, digital marketing and SEO firm did a study which sought to assess how smart digital assistants are through comparing completeness and accuracy of responses to more than 4000 questions. In the study, Google Assistant leads the pack with Alexa, Cortana, and Siri ranking accordingly.
It comes as no surprise, however, considering that it comes from Google which boasts the world’s most powerful search engine. It is ideally the most accurate digital assistant of the pack and is typically better at finding you the most relevant answers and information for you.
- Ease Of Setup
Typically, ease of setup represents the duration an assistant takes to get up and running, not to mention how complex this process is. All these four digital assistants come with options for you to customize your personal experience, which includes custom settings, app integration, not to mention adaptive responses.
Considering the time it takes for new users to turn the device on and begin asking questions, Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant require very little setup time. All it takes is for you to sign in and begin. In fact, these three assistants take approximately less than 45 seconds when it comes to initial access, including turning on the gadget or for Alexa’s case, plugging it in.
As for Cortana, to access its features, you need to access it on your gadget and subsequently log in. After entering a valid email account, you need to wait to get a verification code and proceed to open it.
With Cortana, if you decide to log in using your phone, you cannot gain access using your registered name or phone number since it asks for ‘a Windows Account.’ In essence, you can only access its features only if you log in using a valid non-school/non-work email address.
Another critical factor to consider is ‘where can you utilize your digital assistant?’ This means considering the devices you can use the assistant on or which devices it is compatible with.
Various assistants work effectively via home devices like smart speakers, while others work well on smartphones as well as other mobile devices like iPads.
Alexa works well with most of the smart home electronics from Amazon, including the Echo, Amazon’s flagship (smart) speaker. Nonetheless, Alexa is also compatible with numerous other available digital media players and smart speakers not affiliated to Amazon.
The catch, however, is that the majority of these devices often can’t be taken out of the house; hence, Alexa loses on the mobile front.
As for Siri, it does better in this aspect, being a typical feature on most modern Apple (i-Series) devices. Siri is also available on several home-based devices such as the Apple HomePod and MacOS computers.
Cortana works even better since it is compatible with multiple mobile devices, including those operating on Windows, Android, and iOS operating systems. Nonetheless, Cortana’s availability on the home-based gadget is somewhat limited except for PCs that run on Windows 10 and beyond as well as advanced versions of ‘Xbox’ video game consoles by Microsoft (Xbox one and beyond).
Finally, although relatively new, Google Assistant availability is gradually expanding. While it was initially available on Google Pixel smartphones, Google Assistant is now compatible with smartwatches (Android Wear), smart speaker (Google Home), laptops (Google Pixelbook), tablets (Google Pixel Slate) and headphones (Google Pixel Buds).
Furthermore, it also operates on various iOS gadgets (although currently in the US only) and several smart TVs.
The best choice when it comes to compatibility of these digital assistants is Siri. Why? Although it is exclusively found on Apple gadgets, it possibly has the best available balance for you whether you are indoors or out and about. Moreover, its availability spans across more languages and countries, although Google Assistant is also close behind.
Digital Assistants are currently available on the majority of available smartphone platforms. Google Assistant, for instance, is effectively incorporated into Android smartphones and you can install it as a split app if you are using iPhone-though several features are unfortunately disabled.
Alexa features both iOS and Android app versions while Amazon and Microsoft are collectively working to usher in Alexa into PCs as well as Cortana into Amazon gadgets.
As for Siri, Apple has shunned away non-iOS gadgets, although it is available on every Apple device inclusive of Macbooks, iPhones, Apple Watch, and iPads. With the digital assistant market gradually stabilizing, you can expect additional integration.
For now, though, the dominant platform in this context is, of course, Amazon, courtesy of introducing a unique home product featuring a massive media library. With Google, the company is slowly building capacity, with the introduction of a distinct home-based speaker as well as integration into various other Google-affiliated products set to thrust its share.
Apple, on the other hand, released HomePod in 2017, which makes it an upcoming contender. Finally, Microsoft may not gain much grip since their smartphone market share is not only negligible, but they have no persuasive home-based product yet.
- Security and Privacy
Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have all created their assistants in a manner that ensures that they do not record unless you speak a command to start the assistant.
Google, for instance, has just recently upgraded the Google Assistant software which now includes voice printing, a feature to uniquely identify a user by their voice.
This effectively prevents your gadget from reading out any personal data. Moreover, Google Assistant permits you the advantage of disabling recordings, although this can limit various functions.
Similarly, Apple has put up work to enable Siri to identify the voice of a user.
Alexa features a unique option that allows you to set a voice code for confirmation of purchases not to mention that any product ordered will only be delivered to the address of the owner on file. What’s more, you can also log in, view every recorded clip, and if you like, even delete them.
According to a 2019 survey by Perficient Digital, most individuals utilize voice commands, mainly when they are home alone. As such, your digital assistant needs to be accessible through a smart speaker.
Amazon, Google, and Apple each offer various distinct smart hubs and speakers which run their digital assistants. As for Microsoft, this capacity is available but courtesy of third-party devices.
Alexa ranks highest when it comes to automation and compatibility with multiple smart home devices. While most digital assistants operate with various standard smart home options like Ring doorbell cameras, Alexa nonetheless can work with more than 7400 brands.
Compare this with Google Assistant’s, which is about 1000 or Siri’s about 50 or so. As such, Alexa is the ideal choice when it comes to the abundance of options if you are looking to automate your house-a vital feature especially if you are looking to purchase third-party gadgets while building a smart home.
Besides the typical digital assistant tasks, digital assistants can also add other distinct features, usually known as ‘skills’ which significantly broaden their capacities through interfacing with other exclusive programs through voice commands.
Alexa, for instance, boasts the capacity to play Jeopardy, summoning a Lyft or Uber, making an order of a drink from your favorite local Starbucks through connected account data.
Third-party developers build these skills, just like how apps are built for smartphones. Moreover, Google Assistant can also integrate well with various tools which permit users to develop their skills. Through utilizing web services such as IFTTT (If This Then That) and Tasker, you can effectively customize and craft various skills that will enable you to automate your social media posts as well as switch devices off and on, among other numerous possibilities.
For instance, telling Google Assistant’ Google Morning’ can subsequently launch multiple actions established to speed up your overall morning routine including turning your coffee maker on, opening your garage door, starting your automobile, adjusting your home’s thermostat after you have left the house and so on.
Siri boasts a new ‘Shortcuts’ feature which affords numerous new ways to customize your personal experience while Cortana is one of the most remarkably customizable assistants with its great personality. You can even customize it to entertain you by either singing for you or keeping you engaged with some funny jokes all day.
Choosing the Right Assistant for You In 2019
Pick Alexa if…
You are primarily focused on finding some assistance at home as opposed to when you are out and about. While Alexa is not available on numerous devices, it is compatible with multiple electronics. Alexa is also remarkable at handling various functions across the home, features multiple customization options, and is excellent at online shopping.
Pick Siri if…
You love Apple things. Siri is undoubtedly a fantastic general-purpose assistant which excels at essential functions like messaging or calling other people, booking reservations, and getting directions among others.
It is also widely accessible since Apple products are dispersed around the world in multiple areas and more languages compared to all others.
Pick Cortana if…
You love to mix pleasure with business. Cortana is widely available on numerous Microsoft products, not to mention iOS and Android devices; hence, it is universally compatible with multiple products.
It also boasts a great personality, and you can even customize it to entertain you by either singing for you or keeping you engaged with some funny jokes all day.
Pick Google Assistant if…
You are a massive Google fan not to mention their rather ever-expanding, integrated service networks. Similar to Siri, Google Assistant is great at virtually all its functions.
However, the most significant advantage is in the fact that it is backed by the superior Google search technology, opening you up to a massive information database.
It is a rather exciting time for the digital assistance market, with four popular and critical players among many others rivaling for supremacy. According to a study done in 2018, Google Assistant ranked as the smartest available assistant despite Echo devices selling better, and Alexa quickly catching up.
Nonetheless, if projections are right, we might just be moving into a relatively more incremental stage of enhancing digital assistants, as opposed to the otherwise crazy dart to various third-party announcements as was the case in the initial years of this remarkable technology. It is these constant changes, however, which will eventually push them to expectantly being handier.