A roundup of digital personal assistants (Amazon Echo, etc.)

With the introduction last year of Google Now and Amazon Alexa, the concept of the digital personal assistant has made artificial intelligence mainstream. AI has one of the biggest things concerning today’s digital world. It is not just something that you can use with your smartphone; it can also be used with other digital devices.

Today’s digital personal assistants are voice activated and controlled. You can talk to them, and interact mostly by voice commands. There are a lot more already deployed in the market, and even more coming up the pipeline. The following are just five of the most popular or most easily recognizable digital personal assistants available either as a part of a digital appliance or the smartphone.

1. Apple Siri

Released in 2011, the Apple Siri created quite a stir at its introduction. Due to the popularity of the Apple devices which runs Siri, this was the point when AI became mainstream. People wanted to try it. Siri is a vital part of iOS 5. The iPhone 4S and third-generation iPads have carried Siri. All mobile Apple hardware manufactured from October 2012 onward support Siri. It is also now available on Apple TV and Apple Watch. Some cars with Car Play also has Siri enabled.

Siri uses the Apple infrastructure along with a person’s web habits, language usage and voice to create a personal experience. When asking help from Siri, it would take into account these factors to give a custom answer. If you ask Siri, it can also give you the health of the Apple mobile device, including the iPod battery level.

There are indications that an app will be released soon which can report a broken iPod screen. In which case, it would be nagging the user to fix the cracked iPod screen.

2. Amazon Alexa

Alexa was developed by Amazon and is included in the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot. Like other voice activated AI, Alexa is capable of being integrated with other appliances, in this case, it integrates via Echo and Echo Dot.

Alexa is activated by either the use of the awake word or in some mobile devices, by pressing a button. Users interact via voice, not only to control other devices but also to answer queries, or access other device features.

Alexa was introduced in 2014, and since then it has added more functionality with the release of compatible smart home appliances. The Amazon Echo is the point of entry for Alexa. The wake word is used, and Echo and Echo Dot turn to listening mode. While listening in, it processes the words it hears and answers queries when these are addressed to it. There have been some concern that the listening mode can be used to record conversations, and in fact, a criminal case has cropped up where the Alexa unit was thought to have captured the conversation before the death of the victim.

3. Microsoft Cortana

Cortana is a powerful tool from Microsoft. It first came with Windows 8, and it was meant to be used as a digital personal assistant to help organize your work or life. The AI was named after an AI character from the video game Halo. Among other things, Cortana makes use of a virtual notebook to keep track of the user. It aims to know everything about the user, to provide the proper answers. You can talk to Cortana, or you can also input text via the keyboard. Since it was first released, the landscape has also changed.

Microsoft has a renewed marketing attack on the tablet and notebook front. Also, Android has overtaken Windows as the most used operating system to browse the internet. There is also the small matter of Microsoft dropping its cell phone manufacturing, as it sold the Nokia cell phone line in 2016.

Among the various apps, it can be said that Microsoft took the time to integrate Cortana with a whole slew of Microsoft apps, including messaging, calendar, notes, alarms and reminders. Cortana can be expected to lead the charge in creating a dominating personal AI.

4. Google Now

Among the various digital personal assistant, Google Now is the one which people may think to be the most obtrusive. This may be true or not, as Google Now depends heavily on personal internet usage. It may be said that among the digital personal assistants, Google Now uses data in the most imaginative manner, it has been doing the same thing with user’s data for Google’s purposes. Google Now can show what the data looks like as you show it through its paces.

The way Google Now is structured, it makes use of data pulled from the mobile device and the user’s other Google accounts. This is already stored in a server, and the AI pulls up the data and messages it to come up with answers to queries based on the large volume of information.

5. Blackberry Assistant

The Blackberry Assistant was introduced with the Blackberry 10.3 operating system. You can use voice commands, as well as the Blackberry device’s keyboards. Like all the rest of the competition, this is aimed at improving the user experience on the Blackberry. What is different though is that it may not have made enough of an impact to save Blackberry. It has been out from the public eye for some time now, and even an outstanding Blackberry Assistant may not be enough to make up for dismal sales.

People who buy Blackberry devices like the device, regardless of the AI. This is one thing that has been proven for most operating systems.

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