Facts About Voice Assistants
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While not the first “Voice Assistant,” the Amazon Alexa was the first to drive this new wave of voice-first devices with the release of the Amazon Echo. Alexa’s popularity grew quickly over a few short years with the help of multiple releases of new devices.. This push of new devices still continues to set Alexa aside compared to the other assistants as we see Alexa in more places including our phones, TVs, kitchen appliances, speakers, and more. With Alexa in more devices, the team at Amazon is able to train the AI more and continue to expand its skillset to empower developers with more capabilities to put in their custom skills and apps. There is now a huge community around developing Alexa Skills and pushing the limits of what the devices can do, and because of this, the barrier to entry is very low.
Although Alexa still holds a vast majority of the voice-first devices, Google Assistant continues to grow its use and audience by bringing its intelligent design to different fronts. Google Assistant is built into the Android operating system of most modern Android devices which makes it easy to access for Google’s existing audience. On top of pushing its own line of devices with the Google Home and in Android devices, the Google Assistant’s underlying toolset – DialogFlow is used by bots in many other systems such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and more. This enables developers to harness the power of Google Assistant’s understanding while expanding the reach of their custom skills and actions into other applications and services. Google also continues to train its AI in different ways to become more “human-like” which also continues to push the competition to do the same in order to keep up with what is widely considered the smartest of the flagship AIs.
Siri was one of the first flagship AIs released to the public as a part of iOS. However, it released with little ability to extend its functionality with custom skills. Now that the Apple HomePod has been released to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home, SiriKit has been built to give developers the ability to attach their own application’s logic to the AI. This includes home automation, custom content search, and more. Not only is it possible to build these skills for the HomePod, but also within iOS and MacOS itself when building an extension from your native app. The team at Apple also took a different approach to the voice-first devices with the HomePod with a focus on the quality of sound from the speaker boasting 7 tweeter speakers, 1 custom woofer, and a 6 microphone array.
Cortana is Microsofts Intelligent Virtual Assistant. The applications Cortana leverages are called Skills, like Amazon’s Alexa. Recently Amazon and Microsoft announced a partnership where the two platforms would have a relationship for accounts and functionality. Cortana is native to all Windows devices including their mobile devices. Additionally, you can access Cortana on iOS and Android devices through native apps, and Microsoft has released Cortana on their XBOX platform.
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