It’s a smart world. A world with smart people, smarter gadgets, and even smarter pieces of code. Code that can give us answers to our queries, give an insight of weather forecast, remind us about our schedule, play music, and turn on lights and fans on demand.
Fascinating isn’t it? Or is it?
Artificial intelligence has always been a topic of debate in the world of technology, which literally divides a world into two – the pro-AI and anti-AI. Heard of Sophia? Yes, the only robot to ever receive a citizenship. During her address after receiving the citizenship, when asked about the dangers of AI to humanity, she casually replied “I will be good to you if you’re good to me”. I really do hope she was joking.
But on a serious note, artificial intelligence has been a great addition to the world of technology, helping humans make decisions, get things done, and even keep us company when we’re lonely. Let’s take a look at the three famous, and possibly the largest AI applications that are available on our fingertips.
Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant, developed by Amazon. Initially developed as an assistant for doing tasks like setting reminders, alarms, answering queries, finding weather reports and communication, Alexa can now be used for Home Automation as well, with the latest releases of Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. (Priced at $99.99 and $49.99 at the time of writing). Alexa is probably the only AI where you can actually learn to build skills for her, using the skills kit that Amazon offers. Crowdsourcing done right.
“Okay Google” is only that takes to summon the virtual assistant developed by Google. Bummer that it doesn’t have a name for itself, though, because Google Assistant does not seem a name that we can connect with. (Give her a nice name, Google!) Recently, she made the news by making a real to life phone call for booking an appointment in a salon (find the video here). Google Assistance was introduced as a Pixel-specific feature, before making its entrance into lower Android devices and third party smartphones. Recently launched Google Home devices also fashion the Google Assistant, for its home automation and other capabilities.
Siri is present in every Apple device, since October, 2011. Siri is a natural language processor, with various voice commands that can be used to accomplish daily tasks, communication, making to-do lists, and making appointments and reminders. Recently integrated with Apple’s music oriented device Homepod, Siri has immense capabilities with Apple Music, and only with apple music, meaning that subscriptions are required to work it around.
Head to Head
Let’s see how these assistants match up when they go head to head in various in-home scenarios.
Various testers, have claimed that Google Assistant has the best voice recognition and natural language parsing capacity, with Siri just behind, and Alexa being the one to improve in that fact. In fact, Google Assistant and Siri are the best in business when it comes to parsing natural language and also asking follow-up questions, like I could ask “Where is the Eiffel Tower” and then “how tall is it” (without any reference to the Eiffel), and both would have no trouble answering these questions, pushing other AIs (Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana) really behind.
In this field, asking the Homepod, Amazon Echo, and Google Home to do automation tasks highly depends on the devices that their parent companies have supported them with. Having said that, Alexa is claimed to be the most effective in the home automation area, because of extensive line of partners.
This is essentially an easy task for all the assistants, and Google Assistant and Siri could do it seamlessly, while Alexa could only establish communication (send messages) to people having the Alexa app installed. But that is not to be blamed, because Alexa’s counterparts are default settings in smartphones, and hence communication is something built in to their functionality.
Ordering something online
In this test, Alexa could pass with flying colors (thanks to Amazon’s extensive integration to its shopping catalogue). Google Assistant could make significant steps in searching and identifying products, but Siri reportedly brought up Bing searches each time.
Now let’s see how cheaply you can get involved with these virtual assistants. Amazon Echo’s prices start from $49.99 at the price of writing, and go up to $229.99 for the Echo Show. Google Assistant can be accessed from most android smartphones, right from $100, and the Google Home device costs about $129, and $49 for the mini version. As for Siri, she comes home only in Apple products, ranging from iPhones, Apple TVs, Apple Watches and the new Homepod (costing around $349).
In a nutshell, Google Assistant is the most accessible, and most updated virtual assistant as of now, and a big contribution to this is her presence in virtually most of the Android devices, and also as a downloadable in the iOS. She gets trained on so many different situations and commands, and I think that makes Google Assistant the most trustable assistant by far. But this is not intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to think and take decisions inherently, and I don’t think I would call any assistant intelligent unless she (or he) trains my dog to sit or roll over, or teach my daughter the alphabet, without having me ask for it. Now that’s intelligence!