Voice assistants are artificial intelligence (AI) applications that can understand spoken words and act on them. They provide convenience and can save you time by letting you command them hands-free.
You can additionally personalize them to control many areas of your life, such as entertaining you with music, controlling your home, setting reminders, and shopping online. They can also be indispensable for the visually or mobility impaired.
This post lists the 10 best voice assistants out there and includes their highlights and best-use scenarios, to enable you to choose the right platform.
Voice Assistant Usage Tips
Here are some tips for using voice assistants effectively.
- Use Specific Commands: It is best to tell a voice assistant exactly what you want from it with a specific command. Avoid using open-ended, indirect questions. Just ask them exactly what you want.
- Speak Clearly: Voice assistants use Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems that are designed to best capture meaning when you speak clearly and at a moderate pace–not too slow or fast.
- Use Natural Language: Don’t speak to them like machines, speak like you are speaking to a human being. Voice assistants are designed to understand naturally spoken sentences.
- Train Your Assistant: Most assistants have training features that allow you to train them to better recognize your voice or accent. Use this feature to improve your assistant’s accuracy.
- Check Privacy Controls: Most commercial voice assistants collect user data. So, check your assistant’s privacy settings first to make sure that you are okay with it.
- Employ Multiple Assistants: You can employ different voice assistants for different tasks, such as Socratic for learning and Alexa for smart home control.
Best Voice Assistants
|1.||Amazon Alexa||Skills, profiles, automation||amazon.com|
|2.||Apple Siri||Apple devices, 20+ languages||apple.com/siri|
|3.||Google Assistant||Many platforms, 30+ languages||assistant.google.com|
|4.||Microsoft Cortana||Windows systems, Xbox||microsoft.com|
|5.||Samsung Bixby||Smart, fun, entertaining||samsung.com|
|6.||Youper||Mental health, psychotherapy||youper.ai|
|7.||Databot||Jokes, searches, riddles||databot-app.com|
|8.||LG ThinQ||Smart home, automation||lg.com/us/lg-thinq|
|10.||Mycroft||Open source, open platform||mycroft.ai|
1. Amazon Alexa
Highlights: Various skills, home automation, games, music
Amazon Alexa is a voice assistant that first appeared in Amazon’s Echo speakers. Alexa is capable of interacting by voice and can provide information on a range of subjects including the weather, sports, traffic details, and news.
Alexa is also an entertainment center with access to Amazon’s music service. It can play specific songs and read audiobooks, and podcasts. You can also use Alexa as a home automation system to control your smart devices. Plus, it can set alarms, create to-do lists, and even buy items for you online.
You can get Alexa for the Android and iOS platforms, as well as on Amazon’s Echo, Windows, and Linux. It is available in 9 languages, including English, German, French, and others.
Alexa is free to install and use, and many of its skills that let it do more activities are also free. However, you will need a subscription to play music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and the rest.
2. Apple Siri
Highlights: Apple integrated, music, news, automation, texts
Originally released as a 3rd party iOS app in 2010, Siri is now a part of Apple’s core systems for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
Siri can understand and speak 20+ languages from English to Chinese, Korean, and Malay. It enables you to check weather information, search the web, call your contacts, get directions, control your mobile device, and keep up with the news.
You can also make payments through Apple Pay with Siri, set alarms and timers, play music, and control your home automation system. Siri can also hold conversations over a wide range of topics, as well as provide further information to you from the web.
The only downside to the Siri voice assistant is its exclusivity to only Apple devices.
3. Google Assistant
Highlights: Multiple platforms, 30+ languages, automation
Google Assistant is designed for mobile and home automation devices, including Android phones, wearables, smart TVs, smart speakers, and so on.
You can search the web with it, tell it to play music, control your home automation device, find recipes online, text your phone contacts, control your home lighting, or set the temperature.
Google Assistant was already on over 1 billion devices by 2020, making it the most widely used voice assistant. It is available for Android, iOS, iPadOS, ChromeOS, Ubuntu, Raspberry Pi, Headphones, and smart displays.
There is additionally a software development kit (SDK) that allows any developer to create hardware applications that use Google Assistant. This has additionally led to widespread adoption by many companies and brands from Audi to Volvo, General Electric, and LG.
4. Microsoft Cortana
Highlights: Microsoft systems, Windows, Xbox
Cortana is Microsoft’s voice assistant application that answers your questions from the web and lets you perform tasks, such as setting reminders.
It is dominant on the Windows platform, with previously released Android and iOS versions discontinued since 2021.
Cortana is available in 8 languages, including Chinese, English, German, and Portuguese. It is available on different Windows platforms, including windows phone, Skype, and Xbox.
Integrated into Microsoft 365, Cortana also helps Microsoft users to respond to work and teams hands-free. You can check your email, set a reminder, check your schedule, make a call, send a message, and so on.
5. Samsung Bixby
Highlights: Smart assistant, entertaining, customizable
The Bixby is designed for Samsung phones and some other appliances. It is available in 8+ languages including Spanish, English, German, and Portuguese.
Bixby learns what you like to do and it then helps you to get more done. You can use it to control virtually all of your Samsung smartphone, tab, or watch. From simple commands to more complex stuff like running multiple tasks with a single command.
You should note, however, that Bixby is only useful at the moment if you own a Samsung device, as it comes pre-installed on them. Else, you are probably better off with Google Assistant.
Highlights: Mental health, psychotherapy
The Youper chatbot combines psychology with artificial intelligence to create a digital mental health assistant that can easily help anyone with self-guided therapy to deal with most emotional problems.
From stress to anxiety and depression, Youper easily helps the user to identify his mood, and then find a solution to the problem.
Youper utilizes many clinically proven therapy methods, including cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness-based therapy.
The downside to Youper is that while the earlier versions included lots of helpful features for free, you now need to pay.
Highlights: Jokes, searches, summaries, learning
Databot is an impressive voice assistant that can understand and speak 12+ languages and is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and the Huawei app gallery.
You can ask it questions from basic dialogs to jokes and riddles. You can use it as a secretary to set reminders, organize shopping lists, and get drive locations. You can also use it to learn stuff from math to other brain training exercises.
Databot also has a dictionary feature with etymology, meanings, and synonyms. Plus, it offers presentation creation, answering questions about famous people, doing web searches, and summarizing information.
8. LG ThinQ
Highlights: Smart home, automation
LG is a leading home appliance manufacturer, ranging from televisions to music players, air conditioners, washing machines, cooking appliances, and so on.
LG ThinQ is a voice assistant included in many of these LG products, which makes it easy for you to enjoy your life at home while knowing exactly when your clothes are done washing or your food is warm.
You can also remotely control the LG appliances in your home, schedule your smart devices, and receive notifications, for instance, when you leave your fridge door open.
Highlights: Education, learning helper
Socratic is an educational assistant that helps everyone from students to teachers to learn. It works with all subjects, including math and science.
Socratic is available for Android and iOS platforms. Simply download and install, then you are ready to ask it your questions either by talking, taking a picture of the problem, or typing your question.
Powered by Google AI, Socratic’s subjects include astronomy, astrophysics, physics, biology, chemistry, algebra, statistics, psychology, history, grammar, etc.
Highlights: Free and open source, open platform
Mycroft is a free and open-source platform for developers or anyone else interested in creating a voice assistant that is fully under their control.
With Mycroft, you can rest assured that your data is not getting mined. The platform is also versatile and runs on everything from desktops to smartphones and even Raspberry Pi computers.
You can employ Mycroft for home automation, music streaming, remote control of devices, and many other skills. The company also has a hardware offering that runs on Mycroft called the Mark II.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions about voice assistants.
No, voice assistants are prone to error, just like any other technology. But this can always be improved.
Most assistants only listen when you activate them with a button or wake word. However, it is best to check each assistant’s privacy settings or policy to know what is being collected and how.
You can use a voice assistant on many device types, including smartphones, smart TVs, smart speakers, tablet computers, cars, and so on.
Yes, you can, using voice assistant development platforms like Mycroft or Houndify.
It depends on the voice assistant that you intend to use. Some will come preinstalled, others might require you to download an app or register an account.
In closing our list of the best voice assistants, you can see the effects of artificial intelligence in everything and how it’s improving many aspects of our lives.
You can also see that different voice assistants are specialized with different duties, so there is no single best app out there. Your needs will determine which of the platforms you will be including in your life.