AI assistants have become a large part of the smartphone and PC experience over the last couple of years, and the ever increasing competition in this space has led to a lot of improvements across the board as well.
In this showdown, we pit four of the most popular AI assistants – Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, Amazon Alexa – against each other to find out which one is the best! All these four assistants have a lot in common to start with and feature a lot of the same functionality and capabilities.
You can usually access them with a press of a button, most of them are built into their various operating systems, they can all perform and access web searches and they all have base apps or dedicated home screen pages to show additional information like the weather, news, reminders and more. The basic experience is undoubtedly very similar when comparing these four assistants.
Choosing an AI assistant generally means that you are also picking the apps and device it supports, and vice versa.
That said, there are a few things worth mentioning. Unsurprisingly, each assistant works best within their own ecosystem. Google Assistant works best with Google apps, Chromecast, Google Home and other Google devices.
Alexa gives its best performance with Amazon Fire tablets, Fire Sticks and the Echo devices, and that’s how it goes for Siri and Bixby as well.
And that can be a huge time saver for you even before you dive into any comparison of capabilities. If you are firmly ensconced in a particular ecosystem, your best bet, generally speaking, is to just stick to the AI Assistant that works best with that ecosystem.
Siri doesn’t work well with Gmail, Cortana doesn’t play well with Youtube, and while Google Assistant does function across third-party apps, you get the best results with Google-built apps like Google Play Music and Google Keep.
We pitched all the 4 assistants against each other on common grounds given below –
Answering Basic Questions
Basic, easy questions that no AI assistant should have any difficulty with were thrown to all the 4 voice assistants. Tasks involved questions about the weather, when the next solar eclipse is, sports scores, telling a joke, and movie show times.
As expected, all four assistants performed very well, and we almost always found what we were looking for, but Bixby appeared to struggle with direct commands until provided the proper context.
However, if something doesn’t work with Bixby, you can always ask it to perform a Google Search with the same question and piggyback off of Google’s excellent responses, which is definitely an odd workaround, but functional nonetheless.
Performing Simple Tasks
Native commands for the most part that either require no third-party apps or very obvious ones were given to complete a task. Tasks involved setting a reminder, playing a song/video on YouTube, opening the web browser, checking my calendar, and finding directions.
Once again, none of the assistants had any issues and performed admirably. One takeaway here is that YouTube support is surprisingly not as good as expected. While Bixby and Google Assistant had no troubles, the other two did, and the lack of support is odd when considering that YouTube is the most popular video streaming service in the world. That said, Alexa does come with YouTube support with other Amazon devices like the Echo.
Bixby, Google Assistant, and Siri also get bonus points for being able to perform multiple, chained tasks together, like launching a web browser and opening a specific web page. Worth noting is that the only assistant that didn’t struggle in any category to even some extent here is the Google Assistant.
Navigating Complex Tasks
Tasks involved turning on the (Philips Hue) lights, fitness tracking, booking an Uber, ordering food and downloading an app.
It has to be mentioned that Bixby does work with Philips Hue lights, but that requires a $50 Samsung Smart Hub in order to do so. This is definitely not a worthwhile investment if you only have a few smart home devices, especially so when other free assistants can work perfectly fine with Hue lights.
Other than that, it is difficult to arrive at a definite answer for which one is the best because a lot of these tasks require complicated setups or have other limitations. For example, Siri can order pizza for you but it is location dependent, and Google Assistant can hail an Uber and order food, but only when using Google Home.
Overall, functionality is generally unstable or incomplete, but things do look promising with all four assistants to some extent. Siri and Google Assistant could have done better if the feature rollout was more consistent across devices or regions. Alexa ended up being the best in this category after failing to answer just one question and despite being used on a cheap, under-powered tablet.
Final Thoughts – Which is the Best?
The Google Assistant is exceptional at context, which is one of the drawbacks of most other personal assistant apps. With other assistants, you have to get the command just right in order to get the task completed, but the Google Assistant is very good at figuring out what you need even if you ask it to do the same thing in entirely different ways.
However, it is incredibly disappointing to see that all the fun features are exclusively saved for Google Home, like hailing an Uber, casting video, ordering a pizza, and more. While these features will no doubt come to phones eventually, for now Home is where it’s at. The Google Assistant is definitely the best all-around pick, though, even if we have to wait for the extra features to make their way to other Google devices.
Amazon Alexa is the most customizable assistant of the lot. It is quite basic out of the box, but you can install additional “skills” that dramatically increase its functionality. I had to install numerous skills over the course of making the video, and most of them work really well. It’s up to you how much skills-adding you want to do to get the assistant you want.
Additionally, Alexa excels at gathering information over conversation in order to complete a task. As far as pure functionality is concerned, Alexa can do more than all of the other AI Assistants, and Alexa-enabled devices work incredibly well with one another.
Siri also performed surprisingly well during every round of this text. Apple has been doing a great job of keeping Siri competitive with everybody else, and Siri definitely feels like a solid option. Of course, Siri is the natural choice for anyone in Apple’s ecosystem, and few folks would switch from Android simply for Siri.
The most impressive part however is its backwards compatibility. As long as your device can run one of the newer versions of iOS that feature Siri support, you are good to go.
Finally, we have the wild card that is Bixby. Bixby excels the most is in feeling like an actual personal assistant. When it does something, Bixby has the ability to emulate screen taps like an actual person, allowing it to interact with on-screen elements better than any other assistant.
Bixby is unrivaled when it comes to boring, mundane tasks like rotating images in your gallery, downloading apps, erasing your browser history, and a lot more. It’s really too bad that Bixby will be available with only a handful of devices and that its home automation features are stuck behind a $50 Samsung hub. It still needs a lot of work though, especially with its tertiary features like Bixby Vision. Overall, it is definitely at least as good as Siri.
In case you want to get your voice app developed on any one of the above mentioned platforms, you can turn to Pragmatic Voice. Email us your requirements at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our voice experts will get in touch with you to discuss your voice project.