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Smart assistants Cortana vs. Siri vs. Google Assistant vs. Alexa

Smart assistants might be the tip of the iceberg by cutting our jobs away in the future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use them in the meantime. Virtual assistants like Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa are now a hallmark of smartphones and tablets, so knowing which one is better could have a significant impact on your next hardware purchase.

To see how these different smart assistants stack up against each other, we pitted Cortana against Siri against Google Assistant against Alexa in a one-on-one virtual assistant.

If you already have your smart assistant of choice, why not check out our guide to using Cortana with Windows 10 or read some of the funniest questions to ask Siri.

Precision and speed of voice

Ongoing Google Assistant conversations
Smart assistants

Primarily controlled by a user’s voice, the PDA’s primary ability to know when to be spoken to and understand what is being said is essential. Everyone has an activation word or phrase they listen to, such as “Hey Cortana”, “OK, Google”, “Siri”, and “Alexa”. The wake-up call tells the digital assistant to listen and respond to what is said next – but if you have a niche accent or don’t like shouting, do some assistants understand you better than others?

While each of the major voice assistants offer excellent voice recognition, Google Assistant and Siri are better at picking up what you are saying – especially when there is ambient noise or the assistant itself is transmitting information to the phone. user. Microsoft says Cortana has a good understanding of context, but it has a much harder time than the other two to actually hear what you are saying, just like Alexa. Quiet environments are best when using the latter two, as background noise can drastically prevent them from understanding what you are asking them.

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Google Assistant

When it comes to query response times, Google Assistant again comes out on top, consistently delivering quick responses to commands. Alexa and Siri were both on her heels, however, but Cortana comes in last. Since users have reported issues with Cortana understanding even basic requests despite not having issues with their microphones (setting reminders, canceling tasks, and finding restaurant information), it’s hard to measure. the response time to requests if they are not heard. When the command is clearly picked up by alternative digital assistants, Siri can often get ahead of Alexa, but that depends a lot on the tasks you ask them and your knowledge of their command prompts. So, when it comes to voice recognition: Siri and Google Assistant win this category. But when it comes to query response times, Google Assistant is clearly the winner.

Features and Capabilities

iOS 12
Brenda Stolyar / Digital Trends

No matter which virtual assistant you use, they all support the same essential functions. These include setting up calendar events and alarms, making calls, sending emails and messages, and playing music. But each also has its quirks and peculiarities that make them unique.

For searches and responding to requests for information, Cortana uses Microsoft’s own Bing search engine, while Siri and Google Assistant use Google. While the latter two can use the same search platform, when you ask for restaurant information, Siri prompts you to call or make a reservation. If you already know where you want to eat, the three can make a reservation or order food for you.

Another advantage of Google Assistant for those who regularly use the Google search engine is that it already knows a lot about you. While this raises privacy concerns, it also means it’s arguably the most personalized service – at least when you first start using it. Its Google Duplex natural voice system also shows great promise for more natural communication with Google Assistant, whether between itself and the owner or with others.

Some of the features offered by wizards work differently depending on the platform you use them on. Google Assistant plays the news to you on a home speaker, while Cortana will play it on a smartphone. While you can’t set Spotify as the default music service for Siri (although that changes somewhat with iOS 14.5), you can do that with Cortana and Google Assistant.

Alexa is great for simple orders and orders on Amazon. Still, if you’re looking for a digital assistant that can understand everyday language and doesn’t require a user manual to master it, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s close, but when it comes to ease of use, personalization, and natural communication, Google Assistant stands out from the competition to win the features and capabilities category as well.

Ecosystem integration

Screenshot of cortana home menu screen

Perhaps the most striking difference between major virtual assistants is the hardware and the platforms they can fit into. Siri could work well with HomePod speakers, AirPod headphones, and on devices like iPhone and iPad. Unfortunately, you cannot recover it on your Android device or Windows PC.

In comparison, Google Assistant is available on both Android and iOS platforms, and with a few tweaks, you can even get it to work on Windows or Linux. It also has compatible hardware options like the Google Home smart speaker and Chromecast and is gradually being integrated with Chrome OS devices, like the Google Pixelbook.

Cortana is pretty much the same, with a wide range of hardware and software platform support. It’s built into Windows 10 devices of all kinds, including all Windows 10 PCs, the now defunct Windows 10 Mobile, and the Xbox One console. Cortana also lives in a few smart devices, including the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker, and there are increasingly powerful and essential Cortana apps for iOS and Android. Part of the Amazon ecosystem, Alexa can easily connect to Fire TVs and tablets as well as many other Bluetooth speakers in a variety of designs – unlike the cookie-cutter aesthetic of Google Assistant – and is an excellent base for those who want to develop a smart home.

As for how easy it is to get your home assistant up and running, the only one that will take a lot of time is Cortana. While Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri enjoy setups that only require a username and password and take less than a minute to initialize, Cortana will have you jumping through multiple hoops.

Testing Cortana involves signing in to your PC, providing a personal email account (not signed in to a school or business), and waiting for a verification code to arrive. Some users even reported that they had to backdoor in Cortana through the app. Then they are only allowed to sign in with the Cortana approved email account and are then called said email account by the assistant for the duration of the setup process. We had to deduce a few points about the quality due to the confusing process involved in setting up Cortana. That alone puts them behind the others, who have simpler methods. So when it comes to ease of use in an ecosystem, it’s a three-way link: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri all do well here. But when it comes to platform availability and hardware integration, Google Assistant and Cortana are better than the rest.

Google Assistant wins for now

It makes sense that each of the apps we’ve described is only compatible with the companies that produced them. As you’ve probably guessed, Siri is teaming up with Apple products, where Cortana is only an option on Windows laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The Google Assistant, on the other hand, is an exception. It works seamlessly on most devices or platforms, although it will perform better when you integrate it with Google services. While Alexa works fine on devices like iPhones, you’ll find Alexa to be the most compatible with Amazon products. Alexa has the potential for exponential growth and development as Amazon becomes a more dominant force in the market.

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