Virtual assistant

Which virtual assistant is the smartest and least reliable?

A decade ago, the concept of commanding an audio-driven robot to do everything from setting a timer to playing music to making video calls was not on most people’s radars. Now, the digital assistants we use on our smartphones, smart speakers, and even smart displays are ubiquitous. We wanted to know how people perceived these assistants. We therefore interviewed 1,041 people over the age of 18.

First, the voice assistant that respondents perceive as “smartest” is Amazon’s Alexa, the technology inside the company’s Echo products and many third-party products as well. Forty-four percent of respondents think Alexa is the smartest, beating Google Assistant to second place, ranked the smartest by 33%; Apple’s Siri is not far behind in third place.

It’s a trend we’ve seen: Amazon, Google and Apple’s more mature assistants top the results, leaving Microsoft’s Cortana in the dust. (Cortana has already been pulled from app stores, so it’s a Windows-only solution now.) And the less said about Samsung’s Bixby, the better, honestly.

Does the perceived intelligence of a voice assistant drive more usage? It’s not. The most used is Google Assistant, at 39%. Alexa is 36% behind.

Note that the numbers do not add up to 100% because people were allowed to make multiple choices. Real technicians probably use several of these audio robots. It should also be noted that 21% of respondents said they do not do use a virtual assistant that much. This number is higher than that of the assistants also managed by Microsoft and Samsung.

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We also found that intelligence does not equal reliability. Apparently, Alexa didn’t pick up much from the latter.


Twenty-eight percent of our respondents said Alexa was the virtual assistant they least trusted with their data. Apple and Google are tied for second place, which is odd given Apple’s recent attempts to boost privacy in iOS. You’d think Siri might have come across as more reliable than Microsoft, at least. But maybe those moves aren’t working yet. Shocking!

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