The Current State of Digital Assistants

I spent this week reading one primary piece on HomePod and Echo as smart devices.

Subsequently, I was able to check out some follow ups to this piece from a few other writers I follow. I wanted to chime in a bit as I’ve outfitted my home in Alexa devices (as well as Google Homes at one point) to perform tasks around the house, and also consistently use Siri and Google Assistant on my iPhone X whenever possible.

While it’s true that, yes, being on the cutting edge of this stuff doesn’t really amount to much at this point in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t mask the fact that Siri severely lacks in the current areas that are available.

I like playing with “smart home” stuff, and have lights, switches, thermostats, A/V components, and the like all connected to Alexa. Because of its openness to link everything together (without having to use something like Homekit), it’s easy to set up and a lot of fun to simply speak direction. Alexa is great at this – it doesn’t talk much (unlike Google), and the exact direction leads to exactly what you want. I use Homebridge to keep everything in sync with Siri, but I imagine that’s outside the scope of most people. With Alexa, it all just works and is cheap to configure. With Siri, it’s quite the opposite.

On the phone, however, Google reigns supreme. I do use Siri whenever I can, but I keep Google Assistant on my homescreen to make standard searches that much easier.

Case in point this week when I was out walking my dog and reading about the Pittsburgh Penguins trade deadline targets. The article didn’t note when the deadline was and I forgot that date. So, with my AirPods in use, I asked Siri.


Siri’s respone was to give me every game on the schedule that day, which was exactly what I did not want. I quickly then swiped up, 3D touched the Google Assistant icon and spoke the same question to Google. The response:



Its response – the exact, correct date of the deadline with no other nonsense. And, if I wanted, direct links to Google search that for more info, OR add it directly to my calendar (which was unexpected, but nice).

This is only one example, I get it. And yes, I would love to have the assistants at the point of what Joe explains where I could ask to purchase a flight for something and it would know all the info. But we’re not there yet, and Siri is far behind at the moment in most of this space. For what’s currently available, I want these assistants to help me and make my life just a tad easier in some scenarios. Alexa and Google Assitant are pretty decent at making that happen.

Hopefully the competitiveness leads to them all being even better eventually. As Joe wrote, “there’s no reason one winner needs to take all in this field, by the way.”