11/01/2017 - 1:10pm
Apple’s Siri may have been the first to popularize the concept of an AI assistant, and Google, though late to the game, may have show just how useful an assistant could be with the power of the right search capabilities behind it, but it’s Amazon–the e-commerce giant with little consumer software experience, that is winning the AI assistant war–at least for now.
At CES this year, Alexa, Amazon Echo’s personal assistant, seemed to be the star of the show. It was virtually impossible to go through the CES venue hall without running into a product–be it a speaker, smartphone, or even a refrigerator–that wasn’t supporting Alexa. That’s something that can’t be said about Siri or Google’s Assistant. And that’s just one of the reasons Alexa is the best AI assistant right now. Here are all five reasons:
A Wide Range Of Device Support
For one assistant to truly “win” the battle, it needs to be available everywhere. Siri is just on Macs and iOS devices. Assistant is on Android phones and Google’s Home speaker. But Alexa…Alexa is going to be on everything, as CES 2017 proved.
It’ll be on Android smartphones, Amazon's Echo speakers, third-party speakers, in cars, in DVRs, and even in freaking refrigerators.
In other words–Alexa will be where you are, when you are and will be available across multiple devices from one room to the next. This is what makes it better than Siri or Assistant–it’s going to be everywhere and thus will be at your beck and call at any time.
A Massive Library Of Skills
Alexa offers what Amazon calls “Skills”. These are essential voice apps for Alexa. And they’re what sets Alexa apart from Siri and Assistant. Sure, Siri can now support third-party apps, but it doesn’t have the sheer volume of the number of skills Alexa has.
Alexa has over 1,000 skills now, with more arriving all the time. Siri, on the other hand, hasn’t seen much uptake from third-party developers besides the really big ones. On Alexa it's the smaller devs doing some of the best skills. On Siri, that’s absent.
It’s Culturally Aware
Another reason Alexa beats Siri and Google is because it's much more culturally aware. A great example of this is asking Alexa to give you the results of the latest “Spurs game”. If you’re in the US Alexa will know you probably mean the San Antonio Spurs and give you the latest results of the basketball game, but if you’re in the UK Alexa will know you probably mean the Tottenham Hotspur and give you the latest results of the football game.
It’s this cultural contextual awareness spread throughout Alexa and its skills that sets it apart. Another small example: ask Alexa to tell you a joke and she’ll reply with culturally relevant jokes based on your country.
Alexa Is A Great Personal Shopper
Hands down, one of Alexa’s biggest strengths is at personal shopping. Because it's made by Amazon and linked directly into their massive ecommerce database, ordering things via Alexa is a snap. Simply give Alexa a shopping command such as “order me Rogue One on Blu-Ray” and as long as you have One Click shopping enabled on your Amazon account, you’ll soon see your item in the mail. This is something Siri can’t do at all and Assistant can’t match.
It’s Just Smarter
Alexa seems to just be smarter and more capable overall. There are many examples of this, but perhaps the best one is the AI assistant standard of asking it to identify a song. Siri, Assistant, and Alexa can all identify what song is playing in the background via a simple query “what song is this?”
However, neither Siri nor Assistant can identify a song that you know some of the lyrics to but that you don’t have on hand, so can’t offer to play a sample for the assistant to identify it. With Alexa, you can simply speak some of the song’s lyrics and Alexa can identify it.
For example, if you say “What is the song that goes ‘I'll go get a ring let the choir bells sing like oooh, So what you wanna do? Let's just run girl. If we wake up and you wanna break up that's cool. No, I won't blame you; It was fun, girl.’” Alexa will take those lyrics and identify them as from the song "Marry You” by Bruno Mars. Now that’s one smart assistant.