When Apple’s Siri first came the scene it was amazing! Users could ask questions and she would answer. Websites were dedicated to useful and useless questions for the digital assistant that arrived with the iPhone 4S. Users could ask for jokes, the meaning of life or mathematical calculations. The more information we gave it, the more powerful it became. Soon it was playing music, providing restaurant reviews and giving directions. “She” began to really understand us. The iPhone was becoming more of an extension of our everyday, natural action: speaking. Then Goole Now happened. And Cortana. And Alexa (oh, how I LOVE Alexa).

As more competition for Siri emerged, the stakes for a truly helpful assistant emerged. Users were no longer content with pressing a button for the weather, we wanted devices and programs that could predict our needs and offer suggestions like a real assistant. Many of these programs now automatically tell you when your next meeting is, the best route to get there (based on current traffic patterns) and who is going to be late. They remember the batteries you ordered the last time and ask you if that is what you want now. Let’s see how the competition stacks up against one another.

  • Apple – Siri plays well in the Apple Universe. Use it to schedule meetings (in Apple calendar), play music (through Apple Music) or call people (in my Apple contacts). In 2015 Apple Homekit expanded to allow Siri to control appliances such as lights, thermostats and coffee makers. Apple gives you a list of all of the Homekit supported products on their site and continues to dedicate more resources to making it more powerful. She can also be very helpful at answering simple math and science calculations. If there are basic facts, figures and statistics, she’ll likely know them. Pros: It comes on all iOS devices. Cons: Siri is not great at understanding speech.
  • Amazon – I have a new love in my life; Alexa be her name. A cylinder with dimensions of 9.25″ x 3.3″, the Amazon Echo can be used to answer questions, order pizza, reserve an UBER driver, play music (Prime subscribers), read Audible books or request your Google calendar. Amazon also allows control of lighting, thermostats and shades. Earlier this year the Echo Dot was announced. It allows users to extend the range of control in a smaller form factor. You can also schedule other actions by using IF (f this then that App {IFTTT}). Lose your iPhone? Alexa will call it for you! Pros: Integrates with Internet of Things (IoT) and all Amazon services. Cons: It is not mobile…at all!
  • Google – The Google Home is one of the newest entries to the world of digital assistance (expected late 2016). Smaller than the Echo, this could be the most powerful device of all. The unique nature of these devices will be the combination Google’s vast array of information and search (from Google Now) with home automation (Google Home). It is expected to automatically work with Nest and all of the Google Apps (e.g. – mail, calendar, drive and contacts). Pros: The power of Google Now and all of the data they have on their users. Cons: As long as you are willing to surrender to the Google machine, it will take good care of you.
  • Cortana – Although not the most popular digital assistant, Cortana offers a unqiue option for people living in the Microsoft universe. It works well with their bands, laptops and Lumina phones. As popular as Microsoft is, Cortana has not taken off well with their mobile devices (which have also not taken off). Pros: Works well on desktop and Microsoft universe. Cons: Lack of adoption

As the popularity and use of digital assistance continues to grow, their incorporation will become more common. Consumers will require devices to work with each other no matter the brand. Currently we are living in the wild, wild west of technology: Siri plays Apple Music; it doesn’t integrate with Google Music or Amazon Prime. Google Home won’t control all of the “Internet of Things” in the home. Similar to the days of Beta and VHS, consumers will have to choose who the winner(s) will be. The best part is the consumer will will in the end.

Scientifically Speaking, of course…