Our best friends-Siri, Alexa & Co.- A review of the first usable AI

First forms of Artificial Intelligence have been around for a while. Most people know them as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant or Chatbots on webpages. In this blog post, we want to explain how AI evolved with time and what it is. Moreover, we will compare the evolution of Siri and other AI-helping-devices and finally review them as a product itself. So, in the end, it should be pretty clear how we, as a user, can benefit from it.

What is AI?

AI is the short term for Artificial Intelligence. This technology is to find in machines, that can help us with things we don’t want or can’t do. Because of that, their goal is also to help us achieve goals faster and more efficient. Be it guiding us through an online store like a supermarket employee or solving problems in the form of a chatbot. The ability of all those devices have in common, that they can adapt and learn from new technology or machines. Afterwards, Artificial Intelligence can then study, improve specific knowledge and adapt to themselves.

Having those “cognitive” abilities, people often have the feeling that AI devices almost function as if they were human. After all, whatever AI does, can be something that somebody probably hasn’t thought of before and still needs to discover. In 1956 scientists first discovered Artificial Intelligence, categorizing them in 3 areas: analytic, human-inspired and humanized AI. So far, the explorations with those intelligent agents reveal a pretty promising future.

What can you use Artificial Intelligence for?

The perhaps most famous AI assistance are chatbots on webpages that offer immediate assistance, once you attend the website. So in general Artificial Intelligence is used to help the user and improve their experience. No matter if it is in the business of online marketing or E-commerce or daily use. As a user, we can often see AI when searching for a vacation spot, like a hotel or apartment. There, AI already helps us find something, but also spreads the data over all our devices. So, for example, if we search for something specific on our computer, this information will also appear on our phone right away. As well as that it can predict what will happen in the future.

Magic technology?

That doesn’t make it a magician but it can use algorithms and data analysis to find out what a company can achieve or what a customer might want to buy next. We all know this phenomenon as the “customers also liked” button. This recommendation service is often to be found in Amazon, Netflix or Spotify. Last but not least, Artificial Intelligence can also use customer-centric search and collecting data to find out what a consumer wants.

That immediately improves the user journey experience and makes the purchase more personal. So improving the so-called “customer relationship management” is only one of many things, that AI can help to improve with. In the end, though, the most famous assistance is the voice over using Siri. More exactly speaking, it can learn and adopt a specific tone of voice and orders, using specific algorithms. The goal is to help find the individually best solution that fits the customer.

Story of Siri

Source: www.applesfera.com

Apple’s “Siri” is probably the most famous virtual assistant there is. It is to be found in every Apple product there is, such as the iPhone, iPod, iMac, iPad or the Macbook and the apple watch. It uses voice queries with an actual natural “language user interface” to make recommendations or to perform requests, using the internet. Although the idea was published by Apple, it was not originally invented by them. Moreover, it was originally an idea of a project that was developed by the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center.

Adding to that, it got his speech recognition engine from Nuance Communication, a company that specializes in the mentioned field. The voices used for American, British and Australian English were recorded earlier with the specific people not knowing about it. Since they were either actors or TV personalities they did not know what a recording of their voice was going to be used for in the future.

Introduced in 2010, Siri was able to be used firstly in the iPhone 4S in the October of 2011. With this publication, it already contained abilities like finding information on the phone or online, schedule dates or events and handle device settings or applications. With the announcement of IOS 10 in 2016, it added capabilities like taking care of payments, car sharing or internet calling. Since IOS 11, Siri can also translate into other languages and help with communication on different levels.

Who comes next?

Source: www.mobilegeeks.de
Amazon’s Alexa

The biggest concurrent for Siri right now is probably the famous “Alexa”. This virtual assistant was developed by Amazon and is to be found in their smart speaker devices. It is capable of voice interaction, creating to-do-lists, ordering something, setting alarms, informing about a lot of different things and much more. Since 2018 is has been used more and more in “home automation system controls” as well. Moreover, Alexa works in a lot of different languages and has been sold more than 100 Million times until 2019. When Amazon first announced Alexa in 2014 they said that the idea originally came from the Star Trek movies and TV-show. The name that contains the recognizable X is supposed to be remembered a lot in the future.

Microsoft follows

Microsoft’s “Cortana” was, as well as Alexa, published in 2014. To be more exact in April at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference in San Francisco. This device is named after the synthetic intelligence character in Microsoft’s own video game “Halo”. Their virtual assistant is to be found in Windows 10, Windows 10 mobile and the Windows Phone 8.1. Furthermore, can this device, which is similar to Amazon’s Alexa, be used in smart speakers or the Xbox One. In mentioned gadgets, Artificial Intelligence can help to set reminders and alarms, recognize the voice and search for all sorts of information. The inventors Zig Serafin and Larry Heck started working on this project in 2009, by interviewing scientifical assistants for new ideas. It was officially stated in 2015, that Cortana is now officially usable in all devices.

Google’s virtual assistant

Last but not least we want to analyze the “Google Assistant”. As the name already states the virtual assistant, powered by AI, was invented and developed by Google. On the one hand, it can be used in all sorts of Smartphones that contain the Google App and of course the Google Phones themselves. On the other hand and more importantly, it can also be used in Home Automation Systems too. Whoever uses it with one of those devices can be sure to enjoy this technology’s ability to natural voice recognition. Additionally, it can set alarms and events, adjust apps or search for information. Debuted in May of 2016 and finally usable in 2017, it was already installed in more than 400 Million devices at that point.


Source: www.spiegel.de

So far, we have a general knowledge about Artificial Intelligence and virtual assistants. Let’s take a moment to compare and review the different virtual assistants using the technology of AI. Based on the information we already have through the texts above, we now want to interpret the scale from the German online newspaper “Spiegel”. This scale is easy to refer back to what was said earlier, starting with explaining the different colours.

Black stands for the Google Home device, using Google Assistant and turquoise for Apple’s HomePod using Siri. Furthermore grey stands for Amazons Echo using Alexa and blue for Microsoft’s Cortana that is mostly used in the Harman Kardon Invoke, an individual smart speaker. By reviewing these, you might also get attached to using those devices one day, to understand the playfulness of Artificial Intelligence.

Analyzing the facts

To completely understand this scale has to be said that the devices were tested by answering queries correctly by category, as the title already states it. For the categories of local knowledge, the assistance of online shopping and navigation support the order is always the same. Just the percentage is differently high for all four devices. Google Home has the best support in all of the first three sections. Followed by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

Still taking a tiny lead Google Home (94%) has a high concurrence coming from Amazon’s Alexa in terms of information. The field of information, that Alexa (91%) can search for, is a higher and more variable one, than for example Cortana (75%) or Siri which is the worst in this case with 66%.

Apple’s Siri, which is to be found in the HomePod, seems to adapt best to the commands. With 85% it offers better communication, than the Google Home (73%), the Amazon Echo (68%) or Cortana (65%), following in that order.


So now we got to know all about Artificial Intelligence. How it works, where it came from and how it developed. We found out how it can help in the business sectors and daily use. Specifically speaking of the virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana or Google Assistant of course none of them works perfectly yet. But that is obvious, concerning that it is such young technology.

After all, there are different opinions on it and not everybody is looking forward to its further development. In the end, though, everybody needs to know how he uses Artificial Intelligence and how he deals with it. The future of it is unpredictable, but we can say for sure that it will have a huge impact on our environment as we will know it in the future.

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