Until recently, Siri’s only been available on an iOS device, Mac, or (in limited form) through your Apple TV. However, in June, Apple debuted its true Amazon Echo home competitor: the HomePod. Unfortunately, if you want one now you’ll have to wait—it’s not shipping until December. Still, we can make some comparisons about the two lines of products, as well as how Alexa and Siri compare as disembodied virtual assistants.
With Echo, you can talk to almost anyone hands-free—no tapping or searching required. Use Drop In to instantly connect to another compatible Echo at home or send an announcement across Echo devices, like calling the family for dinner or reminding the kids to go to bed. Plus, now with Skype calling stay in touch with friends and family in over 150 countries.
In April 2019, Amazon announced the expansion of Alexa to Brazil, in Portuguese, together with Bose, Intelbras, and LG. The company has since launched various products in India, including Alexa-enabled speakers, Bluetooth wireless speakers, car chargers, power banks, robotic vacuum cleaner, USB cables, and wireless earphones under Anker, Eufy, and Soundcore.
Audio quality may be in the ear of the beholder. The Wirecutter thought the Amazon Echo just edged out Google Home; PCMag, however, preferred the tones of Google’s smart home speaker. Basically: Both are comparable in terms of quality. However, if you stream music on Apple Music, Soundcloud, or Google Play, you’ll want to go with a Google Home over an Echo.
A New Hampshire judge ruled in November 2018 that authorities could examine recordings from an Amazon Echo device recovered from the home of murder victim Christine Sullivan for use as evidence against defendant Timothy Verrill. Investigators believe that the device, which belonged to the victim's boyfriend, could have captured audio of the murder and its aftermath.
These devices are first and foremost, a speaker. If you plan to use the device to play your favorite tunes on the regular, Apple’s HomePod may make more sense. In its WWDC keynote, Apple really played up the HomePod’s audio chops—and it’s more expensive price tag would also suggest that it’s got higher quality drivers and woofers inside. However, we have not tested this in person, so this is speculative (for now).
^ Green, Penelope (11 July 2017). "'Alexa, Where Have You Been All My Life?'". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2017. When Toni Reid and her colleagues at Amazon set out to build the device that is now known as Alexa, they were inspired by the computer that drove the Enterprise on Star Trek (voiced by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played Nurse Chapel on the series and was married to the show's creator). Focusing on cadence and an accent that would suggest 'smart, humble, helpful,' the team tested voices that a diverse population would respond to. 'Our goal was to have Alexa be humanlike,' Ms. Reid said, but why end there?
Google Assistant doesn’t have flash briefings in the Alexa sense — instead, you’ll be publishing your audio content as a podcast. This is a little more technical than Alexa’s process. First, your briefing will need its own homepage. Second, you’ll need to edit the briefing’s RSS feed to include snippets of code that are required for Google Assistant to recognize it in its directory — check out all the requirements here. Google doesn’t require setting up an Assistant action. Once you’ve included the necessary code in your RSS feed, your podcast will show up automatically within search results.
Flash briefings are great for quickly informing your audience, but a fully interactive Alexa skill or Google Assistant action will allow even more freedom. With a well-designed skill, you can provide personalized service and content to your audience at any time — not just once a day or week. With a voice chatbot analytics tool like we provide as Botanalytics, you can also receive helpful usage data to get to know your audience even better.
It’s safe to say that these kinds of audio updates are here to stay, whether they’re delivered through Alexa as a flash briefing or in the future through Google Home or Apple HomePod. For marketers, the key to maximizing the potential of this new medium is to publish briefings consistently, use relevant keywords, and promote your skill across all channels to build your audience.
Now, just because Alexa understands what I’m saying better doesn’t mean she always has a response to my questions, though. Both AI’s gave me the current weather report, Alexa said she didn’t have information for the Sharks query, and Alexa also didn’t have a response for the movie question. Siri, however, gave me information about the Sharks’ next game (October 4, against the Flyers, if you’re curious), and for the movie question, while she didn’t hear it quite right, she still got the gist: She suggested seeing War for the Planet of the Apes on Friday, along with movie times at a handful of nearby theaters. Is Siri smarter? She may know a wee bit more than Alexa, but largely, their question-and-answer base is comparable.
Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word (such as Alexa); other devices (such as the Amazon mobile app on iOS or Android and Amazon Dash Wand) require the user to push a button to activate Alexa's listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are available only in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Hindi. In Canada, Alexa is available in English and in French (with the Québec accent).
There are a number of ways messages can be sent from Alexa's application. Alexa can deliver messages to a recipient's Alexa application, as well as to all supported Echo devices associated with their Amazon account. Alexa can send typed messages only from Alexa's app. If one sends a message from an associated Echo device, it transmits as a voice message. Alexa cannot send attachments such as videos and photos.
Amazon blamed the incident on "human error" and called it an "isolated single case." However, in May 2018 an Alexa device in Portland, Oregon, recorded a family's conversation and sent it to one of their contacts without their knowledge. The company dismissed the incident as an "extremely rare occurrence" and claimed the device "interpreted background conversation" as a sequence of commands to turn on, record, send the recording, and select a specific recipient.