Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, the best Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA’s) on the market today. We asked each of them the same questions covering four key areas, and rated all responses out of five to see which is the best assistant for your needs.

Becoming friends with your assistant

Some level of personality is important in your new assistant, so we looked at will it tell you a joke, sing you a song and be capable of a fluent conversation. Also important in this area is the assistant’s ability to learn and remember information about you, such as when your birthday is, what is your favourite colour and who is your favourite band?

Alexa

We started by asking each of the assistants to sing a song and despite it being the end of January, Alexa sang us Christmas songs… even after a few attempts. Safe to say she needs work when it comes to updating her times of the year. She does have a few jokes she can share with you though her conversation skills are not particularly fluent. Her favourite phrase is ‘Hmmm I am not quite sure what you mean by that.’ If asked the right questions she will rap, tell you a joke and meow but as for assisting in a more conversational way, there is certainly room for improvement. She is however programmed with some funny phrases if you know the right questions to ask.

Our verdict: 3/5

Siri

Siri tends not to be too friendly in a conversational way… she refuses to sing you a song, and when asked states ‘You would not like it.” She gives a very similar answer to asking for a joke and her answers are always somewhat flippant. Like Alexa, she has some very funny answers to very specific questions but you have to know what to ask so it definitely is not a fluent conversation.

Our verdict: 3/5

Google Assistant

Google Assistant has a very friendly feel, you can ask her requests in a non structured way. For example stating “I want a coffee” she automatically brings up places nearby along with their ratings. As you do not have to ask a direct question as you do with the others, this makes for a more natural, less robotic conversation. One feature we found particularly stood out was her ability to remember information about you. If you say anything such as my birthday is… or my favourite colour is… you can later ask her and she remembers whereas all the other IPA’s just create a note or event, rather than learning about you. She is also pretty funny and brings up many more subjects that might be of interest relevant to what we have previously discussed and other ways she could possibly assist. Google Assistant also allows you to play games with your friends!

Our verdict: 4/5

Cortana

Our final chat was with Cortana. When asked the same questions she gave some clever responses, for example when asked “Will you be my friend?” she responded ‘OK, but we’ll need a plan. I’ll work on being more human, you work on being more digital.’ but when asked a follow up to her programmed response she just brought up a Bing search on ‘Being more digital.’ It is obvious that the programmers have gone some way to giving her a personality, though not far enough to make it feel like a fluent conversation. She does do very vague searches on Bing for A LOT of things. Overall it would have to be a 2/5 for this area as we spent most of our time closing Bing links….

Our verdict: 2/5

Round Winner:

 

Google Assistant

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