Duel of the Digital Assistants

November 12th, 2018 by admin

Alexa digital assistant

In this age of information, we all need a companion. Just 10 years ago, a digital assistant may have seemed like something out of a futuristic flick, but today, with a simple, “Alexa” or “Hey Google”, we have access to a myriad of tools and information. But which assistant is best for you? We'll give you a side-by-side comparison of Amazon's Alexa versus Google's Assistant. Amazon led the way in smart speakers with their Amazon Echo, powered by their digital assistant, Alexa. Shortly after, Google came out with their own version called Google Home, powered by Google Assistant. Let's break it down and see how they compare.

Ease of Use

Alexa tends to require a specific set of words in order to recognize and complete requests, and that vernacular can feel a little clunky. Google is more intuitive in responding to requests in a variety of conversational ways. For example, if Alexa was playing a song in Spotify that you didn't enjoy and you said “Thumbs down”, she would let you know that Spotify does not offer a thumbs down option, while Google would catch on to what you mean and just skip the song for you. However, Alexa is still quite easy to use, it just may require a little more of a learning curve if you want to do anything out of the ordinary.

Functionality

Skills/Actions: Both Alexa and Google Assistant have a wide variety of functions they can serve, and the list keeps on growing as they integrate with other third-party apps like Uber, and even Domino's pizza. Through the Alexa app, you can download skills (which are basically apps for your Alexa) that will unlock more features of your device. Similarly, Google has downloadable actions. Alexa has more skills to offer, but Google's actions are slowly catching up.

Shopping: Not surprisingly, Amazon's Alexa is better at shopping related queries.

Answering Questions: Stone Temple asked the digital assistants 4,492 questions. Of those questions, they counted how many they were able to fully and completely answer. Google Assistant for smartphone performed the best, answering 74.6% questions, Google Assistant Home answered 58% of questions, and Alexa answered 44.3%. Google obviously takes the gold in this category. What's more is that you can ask follow up questions, and Google will typically remember what you're talking about. For example: If you ask “How old is Lady Gaga?”, after receiving your answer you could reply “What's that movie she's in right now?” and get an answer rather than a confused response.

Voice Recognition: Alexa responds to multiple wake words (Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Computer), while Google Assistant requires “Hey Google” or “OK Google”. Google assistant can recognize up to six different user voices, and automatically switch between accounts and preferences. Alexa does not automatically switch, but easily does so with a voice command (“Alexa, switch to Hannah's account).

Voice Recognition

Both digital assistants are integrated into many devices, and the list of those devices is growing longer and longer. Alexa currently integrates with more smart home devices, but Google will connect with anything attached to a Chromecast. If you use a lot of Google services (Gmail, YouTube, etc.), the google assistant will naturally integrate better with your accounts.

Privacy

That data that both Alexa and your Google Assistant collect will be used to inform the advertisements you see on your laptop and phone. Both assistants will allow you to log in and view all recorded clips, and delete them should you wish to do so. Google Assistant will even allow you to disable recordings, but doing so may limit some functions.

Price

Amazon and Google offer multiple devices that hit every price point. Amazon's Echo Dot costs just $49.99, and Google Home Mini starts at $49.00. The full sized Echo retails at $99.99, while the Google Home goes for around $129.00.

So, which one comes out on top?

Well reader, like most things in life, it depends. If you want an easy-to-use-right-out-of-the-box option, Google's assistant may be right for you. If you're willing to do some tinkering and learning in order to unlock some seriously cool skills, Alexa may be more your speed. Both are great options to help you get the most out of your time and your tech. Sound off in the comments, are you Team Alexa or Team Google?

- Hannah Web

Posted in: Tech Tips, Products, Technology


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