Battle of the Virtual Assistants

In the world of virtual assistants, Siri has been here since the beginning. Google followed suit shortly with their VA known as Google Now. Late to the party but catching up is the Microsoft version known as Cortana. Both are virtual assistants that are voice activated and hands free. These VAs use what is called an artificial intelligence algorithm. The way the algorithm works is the more you use it, the better is gets to know you. The better it gets to know you, the more helpful the VA actually is. The real breakthrough, however, is not in their voice recognition capabilities, but their ability to understand things in context and respond in a conversational manner. All of these companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development with the goal of making these assistants speak and respond in a more conversational manner and with greater accuracy around content and context. An experiment was done to evaluate how Siri, Google Now, and Cortana would perform. On factual items like “What is the weather like today,” all three showed an image of the weather forecast. When asking about making reservations, Siri and Cortana showed a list of restaurants in a half-mile radius. Google Now, however, opened the Open Table reservation app with the reservation form already filled out. Now for the ratings on the good stuff: jokes. When quoted the famous line from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which astronaut Dave Bowman tells the ship’s computer: “Open the pod bay doors.” Cortana responds with the right answer: “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Siri’s response was better: “Doesn’t anybody knock anymore?” Google Now responded by giving links that showed clips from the movie. Overall, the three services are good on factual questions. No matter which one you use, you are sure to be informed and entertained.

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