Smartest voice assistants: Siri beats Alexa but Google prevails for now

By Jared Newman

July 25, 2018

Google Assistant is better at understanding and answering questions than any of its rivals, according to a new test by Loup Ventures. The venture capital firm asked 800 questions each of Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana, and found that Google answered 85.5% correctly. Siri came in second place with 78.5%, followed by Alexa with 61.4% and Cortana with 52.4%.

The high marks for Google aren’t a shock, given that the company can use its vast search engine to pull out answers to common questions. Siri’s triumph over Alexa is more surprising, given the former’s reputation for bungling responses and the latter’s popularity on smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo.

It’s worth noting that Loup used smartphones instead of smart speakers for this round of testing, and Alexa’s mobile apps are less capable than the version that runs on the Echo. On the iPhone, for instance, Alexa can’t set reminders or alarms, play music in third-party apps, or send SMS messages. (Texting is supported if you have an Android phone.) Loup also knocked Alexa’s commerce skills, because it merely suggested things to buy on Amazon instead of helping users research the best products.

In any case, Loup notes that all voice assistants are improving rapidly. And with Apple’s recent hire of Google’s former AI chief, the search giant shouldn’t get too comfortable atop its perch.