Personal assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri have become huge in recent years. They aren’t just on respective smart home speakers, but you’ll find them on devices like phones and tablets too – each offering their own strengths and features.
But which is the best personal assistant out there and which will best serve your needs?
While there are others, like Samsung’s Bixby, we’ve focused on a summary of the three main assistants – Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri – to help you understand what they are, what they do and what devices you can find them on. We have separate features on each if you want to know more about one in particular.
Google Assistant is probably the smartest and most dynamic of the personal assistants.
It launched in 2016 as an extension of Google Now and it not only offers personalized elements – pulling in information from the likes of Google Calendar, Gmail and other Google services – but it understands context, recognizes different voice profiles and supports features like Continued Conversation and Interpreter Mode.
In a nutshell, Google Assistant will allow you to control compatible smart home devices, control music, access information from your calendars, act as a translator in real-time, run timers, alarms and reminders, call contacts using Duo, find information online and play content to a Chromecast device, among plenty of other things.
You’ll find Google Assistant on numerous devices, from Nest and Google Home speakers and smart displays, third party speakers and smart displays, Google Pixel phones, Android phones and Wear OS smartwatches to earbuds and headphones, Android TV, Nvidia Shield and cars that support Android Auto. With the Google Assistant app, you can even add the personal assistant to an iOS device.
Our separate feature explains more detail on what Google Assistant is, what it does, which devices it is on and how to use it. Click here to find out more about Google Assistant.
Amazon Alexa is probably the most popular of the personal assistants. It is the assistant that made assistants a thing.
Amazon put Alexa onto the original Echo speaker in 2014 but since then, the Echo devices available have expanded rapidly, which has consequently seen Alexa in millions of homes across the world. Like Google Assistant, Alexa will perform various tasks for you and control various systems and the “Alexa” wake word is more personal than “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri”.
Like Google Assistant, Alexa will control compatible smart home devices, control music, run timers, reminders and alarms, find information online, play content on an Amazon Fire device, read news briefings, offer Alexa calling, among plenty more. Where Alexa has a distinct advantage over the other personal assistants is its compatibility with apps and services, with a huge list longer than Google’s or Apple’s, even if they are quickly catching up.
You’ll find Alexa on a whole host of devices – not just the plethora of Echo speakers and devices available – but third party speakers, Fire devices, a couple of Fitbit devices and even some cars. Amazon has even put Alexa in a microwave, a teddy bear and a clock in the past.
Our separate feature explains more detail on what Amazon Alexa is, what it does, which devices it is on and how to use it. Click here to find out more about Amazon Alexa.
Siri is the oldest of the personal assistants and probably the funniest too.
Apple first offered Siri as a standalone app on the App Store in 2010, but it has been hard-corded into the company’s iOS software since 2011 after Apple acquired the company behind it. As with Google Assistant and Alexa, Siri will perform a multitude of tasks for you and it will pull in information from various Apple services to give you a more personalized experience. It is also capable of wit (which the others lack) and it allows for the use of natural language.
Siri will control compatible smart home devices, open apps, call or text someone in your contacts, set reminders and alarms, find information online, make recommendations, tell jokes and plenty more. Read our separate feature on plenty of ways to get a giggle out of Siri.
The main difference with Siri compared to Google Assistant and Alexa is Siri is only available on Apple devices. You’ll find Siri on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, AirPods, MacBooks, iMacs, the HomePod speaker and any cars that have Apple CarPlay on board – though that also requires an iOS device.
Our separate feature explains more detail on what Apple’s Siri is, what it does, which devices it is on and how to use it. Click here to find out more about Apple’s Siri.
So which personal assistant is the best? Well as always with these things, there isn’t an easy answer and it depends what you are looking for to follow your needs.
Google Assistant is very impressive. It can handle multiple queries at once, personalized results by recognizing a voice profile and it has the power of Google search behind it, making it very accurate. The wake words aren’t very personal though, it isn’t compatible with as many apps and services as Alexa and it isn’t as funny as Siri.
Amazon Alexa isn’t as dynamic as Google Assistant, or as smart, but it is compatible with hundreds of thousands of services and apps, the Alexa wake word is personal and customizable and it has features like Alexa Calling.
Apple’s Siri is by far the wittiest of the personal assistants, the one that allows you to speak the most naturally and it offers features like Siri Shortcuts that make getting things done quick and easy, but it is tied into Apple devices and it offers less compatibility with apps and services compared to Alexa and Google Assistant.
Each personal assistant has its pros and cons. If you want the smartest, you’ll want a device with Google Assistant. If you want the most compatibility with apps and services, you’ll want a device with Alexa. If you want the funniest, you’ll want an Apple device for Siri.
Bear in mind, if you have an Android or iOS phone, you can download the Google Assistant app and Alexa app from the App Store or Google Play Store. As mentioned, Siri is only available to Apple users so if you have an Apple device, you can pretty much have your cake and eat it with access to all three assistants.