Who's winning the virtual assistant tech takeover?

The race to take control of your smart home is on...
Who's winning the virtual assistant tech takeover?

Alexa swiftly on the rise post-CES 2017

This time last year, we’d all have said: “Alexa-who?” But Amazon has done a stellar job of establishing its virtual assistant in the mainstream, now challenging long-time market leaders, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Following the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas this January, it’s clear Alexa is destined for more than its smart home hub origins. Manufactures such as Samsung, Ford, Philips, and Belkin - to name just a few - are offering Alexa connectivity to their IoT tech, in what looks like the first example of all-round integration. The Huawei Mate 9 Pro will also be the first smartphone to host Alexa as its inbuilt assistant.

Amazon’s vice president of Echo, Mike George, credited Alexa’s rapid growth to the work of partnership: “We now today have over 7,000 custom skills that third party developers have built to enhance Alexa,” he commented. “And we have a rich pipeline of Alexa voice service equipment that will be released over the coming months.”

Where does this leave Google Assistant?

Not to be outdone, Google has announced that its own little helper, Google Assistant, will be escaping the home hub too, and making its way to Android TV.

Google’s Android TV director, Sascha Prueter, writes in a blog post: “The Google Assistant is making its way to Android TV in the coming months. As part of an upcoming update on supported TVs and set-top boxes powered by Android TV, you’ll be able to ask the Google Assistant for help so you can enjoy the content you love, faster than ever, on the best screen in your house.”

Here are a few things you’ll be able to ask it when it launches:

  • Play content: “Play Stranger Things on Netflix.”
  • Discover content: “Search YouTube for Jimmy Kimmel." And you can also ask a follow-up if you’re interested in more videos by saying: "Play the second one.”
  • Get answers: “Tell me about Jurassic Park?”
  • Set the right mood: “Dim the lights.”
  • Get ready for your day: “How long will it take to get to work?”

Assistant and Android TV

So, where’s everyone else?

There are rumours of Apple introducing a Siri-powered standalone device, although information is pretty thin on the ground at the moment, while Microsoft is gearing up to launch Cortana into the connected space.

At CES, Microsoft announced a partnership with Nissan, which would presumably mean a connected dashboard. Microsoft general manger, Ryan Gavin, commented that the entire Microsoft ecosystem has a part to play in Cortana’s “battle for the future”, reports Business Insider. So, watch this space.

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