Friday, December 30, 2022

The Voice Assistant Battle 2023

Marques Brownlee (via Dave Mark):

Google Assistant vs Apple’s Siri vs Amazon Alexa vs Samsung’s Bixby

He says that Google Assistant is far ahead and that Alexa is not what it once was. Siri comes in second, but that seems to mainly be due to the iOS/HomeKit ecosystem—otherwise he seemed to prefer Bixby.

Personally, I’m mostly interested in “easy” tasks, and so I’m frustrated more by Siri’s speed and reliability problems (blaming spurious network issues, pausing for a long time before admitting it is confused, and getting stuck in a mode where it won’t do anything until I unlock my phone) than by how sophisticated it is at following a sequence of questions.


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Asking Siri to play music from your iTunes Match library (when you don’t have Apple Music) is an exercise in frustration.

Many times it either refuses to play anything or plays something bearing no relation to what you asked for.

I have devices from the big 3 (sorry Bixby...). My experience with Siri is that it's just fine and has suffered from both a slow start and ridiculously high expectations. There are times when it's crazy but it's honestly way better than a lot of people give it credit for...both on HomePod and iPhones/iPads. I have a Google device (don't remember what it's called) with a screen that I use as an alarm clock. It works great...we don't ask it to do much but it does fine. My grandson likes to ask it to tell him jokes/stories. I also have a similar Amazon device (Echo?) that we use in another room as a clock/music & podcast player. Honestly, a month or so ago I would've said it was great. But literally when the word started hitting that Amazon was laying off Alexa people and it was losing a ton of money on it, Alexa has lost it's mind. It no longer "listens" as well as it did. It makes mistakes, plays the wrong podcast/song. Simple things like "set a timer" it starts playing a radio station. My wife & I speak the same as we did a month ago...something has really changed, for the bad.... I've threatened it that I'm going to replace it with a HomePod Mini...and it's likely to happen. I'll miss the screen but I'll figure it out.

@Mike Yeah, I’m not sure how it could have regressed so, but Echo/Alexa almost never sets a timer when my wife asks now, whereas it used to “just work.” I still like it because it’s fast and supports multiple timers.

It’s almost as if Alexa was never AI in the first place but was warehouses full of people listening in.

Even though nowadays it often tries to upsell Amazon services, I remain amazed how lickety-split fast Alexa is on an Amazon echo, as compared to Siri on an iPhone. Playing music, reporting the weather, setting a timer, etc, are instantaneous with Alexa and meanwhile with Siri, it might as well play the Majel Barrett response from 1980's Star Trek's computer … "working …" … … …

Imo the Google assistant is getting worse with each passing week.

Slower, more confused, tries to answer on the wrong device.

Siri’s getting a little better. I occasionally find a question that our Google thing doesn’t answer, that Siri can answer. (Yesterday it was: “When is Orthodox Christmas?” — Dec. 25 according to Google, Jan. 7 according to Siri).

However, Siri is unreliable enough that even when it gives the correct answer I don’t trust it.

I hope Apple continues to improve it, especially speed. The Google Assistant speed is mind-blowing. Ask an obscure question (usually about food, ours is in the kitchen) and it immediately begins to answer, I would estimate in less than 250 ms. It also clearly understands what we meant by the question, and offers a useful answer about 70% of the time.

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