What Are They and What Can They Do for Me?
Digital Assistants are a dime and dozen in today’s world, and there is no surprise that they have made their way into our homes. In this article, we will focus on the top three best sellers and look at how they work.
- Amazon’s Alexa
Alexa is the name of Amazon’s voice-based smart home assistant. While some folks will use the names interchangeably, Alexa is actually the name of just the AI—not the product. You can use Alexa in Amazon’s Echo products. These now include the original Amazon Echo, the smaller Echo Dot, the Amazon Tap, the Echo Look, and the newest addition to the lineup, the Echo Show. By default, Echo devices use “Alexa” as their wake word.
While the device is constantly listening, it only starts tracking and analyzing what you say next after it hears “Alexa.” It then pulls up the relevant results. However, if, say, someone in your house is already named Alexa, you can change the wake word to something else: Amazon, Echo, or Computer.
From there, you can ask Alexa all sorts of questions: You can ask her to play music, ask about the weather, or ask her to convert measurements for you. You can also use her to shop for products on Amazon or to control other smart-home devices.
- Google Home
Google Home is all about Google Assistant, which is the gateway to question-and-answer information. Assistant doesn’t have a real-person name, like Alexa or Siri, but it does have a (sort-of robotic) female voice and you can change the voice. There are a few different options.
Google Assistant is always waiting for you to talk or ask it something. You can call on it for everyday mundane tasks such as setting morning alarms and remembering shopping lists. You can also ask Assistant to fetch weather and traffic information, look up flights, check your calendar, get local business information, and order an Uber for you. Assistant even does jokes and trivia: Just say “OK Google, entertain me”, and see what happens next.
- Apple’s Home pod – Siri
HomePod is great at the things you want to know, and do, in your home. From getting the latest weather to sending messages and controlling your smart-home accessories, to making calls, Siri makes it easy to multitask with just your voice. Just say “Hey Siri, turn on the lights” or “Hey Siri, call James.” You can even ask Siri to set scenes, like “Good morning,” that put multiple smart-home accessories to work — all at once. Just add an accessory to the Home app, then control it with your voice on HomePod.
All three devices all do the same thing and it comes down to user’s preference in which device you choose for yourself. Amazon Alexa has the smoothest speech pattern, making it hard to tell the difference between a human and a device. Google has the best search engine and is more reliable where information is concerned. With privacy in mind, Apple worked directly with home-accessory makers to ensure that the data transferred between accessories and Apple devices is secure and encrypted, making Apple’s Siri Devices a more secure technology on the market than the other two.