“ The better we get, the less time you spend talking to customer service. It’s a gain for companies, but it’s also a gain for personal life.”– Alex Lebrun, Facebook M’s teacher
Machines are rising, they are planning our days, making our reservations, ordering our cars. We talk to Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google like we would to a human assistant.
But how do these AI systems compare? Here’s a look at what they do, how they’re marketed and what they’ll do next.
Traditional search has us conditioned to speak like cavemen: choppy sentences, verbs optional. But that’s all starting to change with the rise of digital assistants and conversational search.
Conversational search comes with the expectation that digital assistants will converse with us. Our primitive two-word queries have evolved into full-fledged, honest-to-goodness questions.
Do you want to use Alexa? Great! But it’s really only useful on the Amazon Echo. You’ll still need to use Siri on your iPhone or Google Assistant on your Android phone. Plus, while Amazon can brag about having the best third-party support with over 10,000 Alexa skills, most of them don’t make sense with voice controls.
Want to use Siri? Fine. But you’re stuck inside Apple’s hardware ecosystem, and Siri is still far behind its competitors when it comes to supporting third-party services. For example, the upcoming Siri-powered HomePod won’t let you control third-party music services like Spotify or Pandora with your voice.
What about Google Assistant? This is my favorite assistant of the bunch, mostly because Google is better than anyone at machine learning and tapping into the wealth of knowledge stored on the internet. But Google Assistant seems to be having trouble breaking out. It’s only on a relatively small fraction of Android headsets and had a pitiful debut on the iPhone this summer, with fewer than 200,000 downloads . It can’t be successful until it’s used everywhere.
And Cortana? Microsoft’s assistant technically exists a lot of places like the iPhone, Android, and a futuristic thermostat , but it’s found little success outside of Windows 10.
Hopefully that paints a picture for you about the current state of digital assistants: It’s a fragmented system of competitors trying to muscle their service into every device with mixed results. None of them, even the best like Google Assistant, are smart enough to live up to their promise. There isn’t a single one that meets the expectations the industry has dumped on them, and choosing one of them now will just result in headaches down the road.
We’re so early in AI and voice control that it’s impossible to predict a winner now.
But there is one thing I can predict: Most of these efforts will fail, and we’ll eventually see a consolidation of these services into just one or two key players living inside all our gadgets. This is the concept called “ambient computing,” where AI is constantly working in the background or responding to your voice commands. It’ll be especially useful in the car, the home, or other times you can’t stare at your phone.
Digital assistant technology has a long way to go, and their current usage patterns only provide some degree of insight into what their long-term capabilities will be. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the meta-platform battle for digital assistants is going to have a significantly broader and longer-lasting impact than the OS platform battles of yore. That, by itself, will make them essential to watch and understand.
The impact of digital assistants on local search
The most common way we’ll interact with digital assistants is through voice search. The problem with voice search is that it makes having a screen optional. You can receive your answers from digital assistants without ever having to read a word of it.
This puts greater pressure on brands to have the best answer, as there is no guarantee how many results will be read.
While the absence of a screen will impact both general and local search, conversational search clearly favors local. After all, general knowledge queries will simply be answered, resulting in few opportunities to lure customers back to your site.
It feels like we’ve not even scratched the surface of the possibilities of these devices. As we employ more connected technology in our surroundings, having a voice-controlled assistant at the very center feels intuitively right. It’s clear that we should have a broad description of what an “assistant” can be in our working and domestic lives if we’re to make the most of them. It’s going to be exciting to see whether investment in developing these platforms will make them immeasurably more useful.
Co-author: Parishmita Chakrabarty is a content marketer at ReportGarden Technologies. A vehement writer, pragmatic and someone who is passionate about music. A writer by day and a reader by night. I believe that life is worth living and this belief helps me creating the fact. Writing has always enthralled me and that’s what has impelled me to become a content writer now. You can read more articles of here here.