Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, are three personal digital assistants. Out of which Cortana is the latest one that Microsoft has just released this year in the month of July. Although, Windows Phone users have already tasted the flavor of Cortana before it released on Windows PCs and laptops. After playing around with Cortana’s features for sometime and as a long-time Google Now user, we’ve decided to put both these assistants through their paces, along with Apple’s Siri to see which one will comes out ahead.

Cortana

What’s the story behind the names of the three systems?

Let’s start with the newest assistant, Cortana, which is named after the artificial intelligence system in Microsoft’s successful Halo series of games on the Xbox. As for Google Now, it is clearly a result of a bunch of executives sitting in a board meeting. Now moving on to Siri, according to Adam Cheyer,the co-founder of Siri, it has two reasons behind the name, first Siri means “secret” in Swahili and “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” is another one.

Introduction of three players of the systems

Cortana, the Microsoft’s personal digital assistant is based on the character’s name from Microsoft’s Halo video game franchise. This assistant is available to all Windows Phones featuring voice actress Jen Taylor and in some cases, you will receive a computer generated voice for your results that is less interesting than Taylor’s magical voice.

As far as Apple’s Siri is concerned, it is a fully voiced assistant available for iPhone users, which started with the inception of the iPhone 4S, offering Apple phone users the freedom to ask questions, interact with the sassy digital diva by setting up a nickname,  to set up appointments and reminders.

For easy access and simplicity, Google Now is probably the best among the others. In order to trigger its voice activation, all you have to say , “OK, Google..” and give a command to it. Like Cortana and Siri, you can easily look up info online, but Google Now is also good at delivering personal recommendations based on your search history and preferences.

Voice

There are many factors considered when it comes to choosing a personal digital assistant, but the assistant’s voice is a huge attraction. On one side, you have a recognizable voice of an actress tackling Microsoft’s Cortana on one hand, and Siri’s remarkable speech that is famous across the globe on the other. Lacking behind in the competition, Google Now has just made a name with the “OK, Google” – a prompt that is used in its advertising.

Among the three systems, Siri offers you a customizable voices by switching onto a male voice if in case you don’t like the original female voice. Cortana is locked with actress Jen taylor’s dulcet tones, so you have no other option rather than her voice and when it’s about Google Now, it offers no customization options.

Voice activation

For those who are in the habit of using hands-free, voice activation of a phone’s assistant is a big advantage. In this case, Google Now beats Microsoft and Apple with it’s listening feature, which lets users activate Google Now at any time just by saying “ OK, Google”. However, the only drawback of this voice activation is that it is only available on technically sophisticated phones right now, although many more devices have started getting the feature.

Cortana doesn’t offer hands-free activation on the Windows Phones right now, but soon it will launch this feature to all Windows Phones. On the other hand, Siri has the ability to  be activated by voice command by saying “Hey Siri”, and it will actively listen and wait for your commands but only when your iPhone or iPad is connected to a power source.

Touch Activation

For all Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the digital assistant (Siri) will ask you for your input. It has one-touch activation, which is really appealing so in order to use it all you need to hold is the home button and enjoy. It can be activated without your screen’s status.

As far as Cortana is concerned, it is activated  by holding the blue circle icon on the main screen or by tapping the Cortana tile on the home screen. Keep in mind that the screen still must be on throughout the process.

Google Now can be used on Android devices, which typically gets active by swiping the screen or you can also tap the Google Search app to open Google Now.

Testing Mode: Accuracy and Speed

For Google Now,  Samsung Galaxy S4 with Android 5.0.

For Siri, iPad Mini with iOS 8.

For Cortana, a laptop with Windows 10.

Let’s check the accuracy and speed of three assistants by asking a series of questions in order to measure which one gives you better results.

Insert search: Where can I watch the movie “ Insidious Chapter 3”?

And the results came out in this order Siri (4.5 seconds), Google Now (5.0 seconds), Cortana (5.8 seconds). Here, Siri was much faster, but Google Now offered a more comprehensive list of results.

Remind me to pick my clothes from the dry cleaners?

Siri (2.3 seconds), Cortana (3.4 seconds), Google Now (4.3 seconds). Again, Siri is a little quicker comparatively to other assistants.

What is the meaning of “Breathtaking”?

Siri (4.1seconds), Cortana (3.1seconds), Google Now (4.5 seconds).  Cortana came up with the quick and witty results and moreover, it also displayed Bing search results for “breathtaking” the word.

Directions to Tower of London?

Siri (5.3 seconds), Cortana (4.2 seconds), Google Now (3.1 seconds). This time, Google Now beats all other assistants and even vocalize the distance and time to be taken to reach your destination.

Gathering information altogether

For travel information, Google Now has given the best and most accurate results. It also displays many other places and easy routes to make your travel stress-free. However, Siri has defeated its rival digital assistants with its accurate and quick results. If you are a new kid on the block, it is really important to understand that Cortana is the latest offering on the Windows 10 version still in beta, so there are possibilities that it will improve in the coming year.

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