In the recent years, there have been big developments in the field of AI (Artificial Intelligence). There is a rapid rise in AI based products, especially virtual assistant or virtual private assistant (VPA), which have become very popular because they are great at so many things, like anticipating our needs, arranging our days, and delivering services when necessary. As they become stronger, their importance in both the personal and business life will go up as well.
There are a few most common assistants that people have heard of. They are AliGenie, Alexa, Google, Watson, and Cortana.
In this piece, we will list down the virtual assistant services by the most popular players in the market: Alibaba Cloud vs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs. Google vs. IBM vs. Microsoft and provide you some insights on them. Keep reading to find out.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is a computer program that helps you in carrying out your daily activities, such as scheduling appointments, making calls (audio/video), etc. Virtual assistants, thus, can be regarded as personal human assistants, as they assist you in getting things done.
There are mainly two types of inputs in a VPA: a text interface and a voice interface. The aim is that the user must be able to interact with VPA using his natural language.
A virtual assistant can be very useful in business as well. It enables organizations and employees to get more work done with ease using VPA. For example, an employee can use it to know the calendar information about a meeting, or managers can use it to start the meeting. Similarly, IT and admin managers can use VPA to assess and increase the utilization of the meeting rooms already available at their workplace.
Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS vs. Google Cloud vs. IBM vs. Microsoft: An overview of Virtual Assistant Services
The intelligent virtual assistants are listed in alphabetical order:
AliGenie is a virtual assistant based in China, created by Alibaba Group, and is currently used in the Tmall Genie smart speaker. It was initially introduced in 2017 alongside Tmall Genie X1, at the Alibaba Computing Conference in Hangzhou.
AliGenie’s AI-powered algorithm is backed by speech-recognition and Natural Language Processing (NLP) system, AliMe, which is built by Alibaba’s Research Team, Machine Intelligence and Technology Lab. The assistant can learn quickly due to the overwhelming data and practice in handling them. Like other assistants, AliGenie can handle multiple tasks, including smart home control, checking the weather, taking notes, voice shopping, music playback, and more.
AliGenie acts like Alexa or Cortana, as an assistant that can charge up information and perform tasks like giving directions or turning on music. It works well with a wide range of accents too.
The tech assistant is compatible with Alibaba Group’s services, including shopping platform Taobao, Tmall, and online payment service Alipay. It also works with third-party products.
Amazon’s Alexa entered the virtual assistant market on November 6, 2014, along with its Echo. It started then as a smart speaker mainly to control the user’s music through voice. Alexa was the smart assistant that was powering the speakers and since that time it has emerged as the center of a smart house.
Amazon Alexa uses Wolfram’s natural-language processing system to perform artificial intelligence functions like translating text to speech in a more human voice, gathering data, processing, and generating accurate responses to the users. The listening system of Alexa uses microphones to hear the user within the range of it. Once it hears a voice command or a request, it is sent to Amazon’s cloud computers, where the processing happens, and the correct response is triggered.
Alexa performs proficiently in question answering, but it doesn’t do very well at detecting heavy accents, such as names, city names, etc.
Alexa is the best in compatibility. It is compatible with many third-party smart speakers and devices like headphones, light bulbs, locks, security cameras, robots, phones, and more.
Google Assistant initially was introduced in May 2016, as part of the Google Home smart speaker. At first, it was a messaging application only. Later, it began developing as Google Assistant.
Google Assistant uses Google’s natural language processing algorithm to engage in a two-way conversation. The search results are presented in a card format that users can click on to open the page. Google’s Virtual Assistant utilizes billions of facts about people, places, and things that are stored in its Knowledge Graph. This database is nothing, but search queries made by us.
Google assistant works really well by giving replies to the user, while also giving hints on how to use the assistant. As per different reviews on the internet, the responses of Google Assistant are very quick and accurate, especially it works great with different accent recognition.
Google Assistant integrates with various android smartphones, smart speakers, earphones, security cameras, light bulbs, and smart TV.
IBM Watson Assistant
Launched in February 2018, IBM Watson Assistant is a question answering system that uses natural language processing and AI machine learning to provide its customers with quick and accurate responses, across any device or application. IBM Watson Assistant is in fact a complete artificial intelligence platform that powers virtual assistants, chatbots and other solutions.
Watson Assistant is mainly made for businesses that want to build their own voice or virtual assistant to help their employees or customers get answers based on real-time data. It can also work as a voice agent on phone and perform actions like providing suggestions, changing room temperature, turning on/off lights, and much more.
IBM Watson Assistant performance is exceptional at understanding the intent of questions and gives businesses more control over information. One main difference between IBM virtual assistant and other services is that IBM one is not an electronic device that customers buy. Instead, the software comes along with the IBM customer software and users are interacting directly with the company that created the product.
Microsoft Virtual Assistant, Cortana was introduced in April 2014 as a digital agent. To develop this, the Microsoft team interviewed human personal assistants. This inspired various unique features in it, for example, the Cortana’s notebook feature. There are several customized experiences you get through Cortana, like it helps you in accomplishing your daily targets, organizing spare time, and much more.
The virtual assistant processes natural language capabilities using Tellme Networks’ interactive voice response service (IVR) (acquired by Microsoft in 2007). It uses the Bing search engine and user’s data to perform tasks and answer questions for the users.
Like other virtual assistants, Cortana too works well in giving the right answers to the questions. However, it is slightly lesser as compared to others at detecting different voice accents and addressing queries related to navigation. Besides this, it works efficiently in encouraging users in accomplishing daily tasks better with less effort, save more time, and complete pending tasks timely.
Cortana is compatible with third-party apps on Windows 10 version 1703 or above, smart phones, and Microsoft products.
We have mentioned all the five virtual assistant services, but it will be difficult to say as to which one is perfect. For example, IBM’s Watson Assistant and Microsoft Cortana might not be the ideal solutions for smart homes, but they are great for business purpose.
Intelligent digital assistant is an evolving field, and the progress is in nascent stage at present. It has far to go.
Your best choice of the virtual assistant will be the one that meets your expectations that you can make the best utilization of, either for your business or personal use.
We have added a table to summarize the service features below.
Virtual Assistants: Alibaba Cloud vs. AWS vs. Google Cloud vs. IBM vs. Microsoft
|Alibaba Cloud||AWS||Google Cloud||IBM||Microsoft|
|Virtual Assistant||AliGenie||Alexa||Google Assistant||Watson Assistant||Cortana|
|Smart Phone App||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|NLP||AliMe||Wolfram||IBM||Tellme Networks by Microsoft|
|Wake Word||Tmall Genie in Mandarin||Alexa||OK, Google/ Hey Google||Not supported||Cortana|
|Price||US $70||US $99.99||US $69||There are three pricing models. Lite is free. Plus and Premium are paid. See details.||US $199 (Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana, available in US only)
In India, Microsoft Cortana is included in Windows 10.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information purpose only. Price, product and feature information are subject to change. This information has been sourced from the websites and relevant resources available in the public domain of the named vendors on 15 October 2020. Wire19 makes best endeavors to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date, however, it does not warrant or guarantee that anything written here is 100% accurate, timely, or relevant to the website visitors.