Digital virtual assistants are designed to make your life easier. They can perform a number of tasks for you on your command. The modern personal virtual assistants use the voice recognition technology and use your voice commands to take actions.
Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri have been the most widely used digital assistants for quite a while. But, only a few months ago, Samsung introduced Bixby with its flagships S8 and S8+. If truth be told, Bixby hasn’t had its moment of glory; not yet. But, this does not imply it is an incompetent virtual instant. In fact, it is quite a capable one. In this article, I am laying out Bixby Vs Google Assistant Vs Siri against each other for you to decide which one is the best. Keep reading!
EASE OF GETTING STARTED
When you have a digital personal assistant, you will want to have the ease of getting it started. What good is an assistant that takes some doing to access. Siri and Google Assistant have been the top contenders. With Google Home now available on iPhone, the competition has been elevated to a new level. There are two ways to access these applications. You can either place a shortcut on the home screen, which you need to long press to get started or you can give a voice command to access them. Samsung, on the other hand, has made things even more convenient with Bixby. They have integrated a physical, dedicated Bixby button to their devices. This button is installed just under the volume buttons and thus it is incredibly easy to access. Of course, Bixby also has a voice command activation too like the two others.
If you are using Bixby, you simply need to press the dedicated button. This will open the Bixby interface. But, things could get a little tricky henceforth. In order to interact with the interface using your voice, you need to hold down the button. It is quite like using a walkie-talkie device. Thankfully the button is ergonomic and it should not be a problem keeping it pressed.
MESSAGING AND CALLING
Messaging and calling are the two most common phone activities. We would like our digital personal assistant to make these activities quick and easy.
In order to send a message, you simply need to give a voice command. Let’s say you want to send the message to a John Doe in your contact list. All you have to do is say something like “Send a message to John Doe.” You can even give the voice command to have the assistant type the message for you. All the three personal assistants can carry out the task without any hiccups.
Now, this command sends the text message using your mobile carrier services. What if you wanted to send a message through one of the instant messaging apps? Well, the good news is that these assistants can do this for you as well and with incredible ease. For instance, if you need to send a WhatsApp message to John Doe, just say “Send a message to Johne Doe on WhatsApp”. That will be all.
Calling is pretty straightforward. Just say “Call John Doe” and the PA will connect the call using the default dialer app.
All these three personal assistants can carry out these basic tasks quite easily. I would say it’s a tie.
GRABBING A SCREENSHOT
We often need to screenshot the active interface of an app. While there are dedicated buttons (usually Volume Down + Power) to take the screenshot, the personal assistants can make things even easier as you simply need to give them a voice command.
But, I was surprised to discover that Siri is not capable of taking a screenshot. Siri is supposed to be the most advanced assistant and I could not believe when it said: “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.”
Thankfully, both Google Assistant and Bixby can take screenshots quite easily. But, in this case, I like Google Assistant more for a simple reason that it lets me edit, touch-up and share the screenshot right after I have taken it. On the other hand, Bixby will have me open the gallery to access or edit the screenshot.
Let us start with a simple action which we have to perform quite frequently. We will launch the assistants and asked them to take a screenshot for us.
INSTALLING AND UNINSTALLING APPS
Installing and uninstalling the apps is another very frequent smartphone activity. Whether you love to check out new apps or simply need the new apps for a purpose, you will have to get them from the app store. And, when you no longer need an app it is best to uninstall it to clear up the storage. Let’s now see which personal assistant can carry out these tasks the best.
I commanded Google Assistant to install Instagram on my smartphone. It came up with a link, which I had to click to install the app from the app store. It was a three-step process.
Siri did things a little better. It opened the App Store for me with “Firefox” already searched and listed. So, I just had to tap the ‘Get’ button to install it.
Bixby, however, went a few steps ahead. It not only opened Google Play Store for me but also automatically installed the app. This was truly mindblowing. I have absolutely no doubt that Bixby is the winner here.
Bixby again turned out to be a clear winner here as well. When I asked Bixby to install a particular app, it simply uninstalled it without any hassles. Of course, the regular consent prompt appeared on which I had to tap ‘Ok’, but it sure saved me many steps.
Google Assistant acted differently for different apps when I gave the uninstall commands for them. But, it never uninstalled any app for me. In fact, it did not even take me to the uninstall screen. All it did was try to look up the web for uninstallation ‘guide’. Honestly speaking, it was of no help to me as I know how to uninstall an app from my device and so do most users.
Siri was pretty straightforward here. It could not remove an app. It simply said, “I can’t remove apps from your iPhone. My apologies.’
We need to interact with the notifications several times during the day. Even a user with minimal smartphone usage may see a few notifications every day. We deal with notifications by touching the screen. But, wouldn’t it be amazing if our personal assistant could help us interact with them with a voice command and without having to touch even once. Let’s see how these assistants fair in this domain.
Show the Notifications
Command Google Assistant to show you the notifications and it will bluntly reply, “I can’t show you notifications yet.” Well, maybe, it could have added a ‘sorry’ to take the edge off the reply. Anyway! It simply means Google Assistant is of no assistance when it comes to showing notifications.
Siri too does not show you the real notifications. But, it is better than Google Assistant. It at least shows the notification count. For instance, if you have 2 messages, it will tell you “You have two new messages.” And, even though it does not show the notifications, it reads them out for you.
Bixby emerges as the winner here as well. Why? Because it brings down the notification shade for you. Awesome! Isn’t it?
When it comes to clearing the notifications, Google Assistant and Siri simply are of no use at all. They just can’t do it.
Bixby is different. The moment you say clear notifications, it clears them for you. But, that is not it. If you wish to clear notifications for a particular app and leave the rest, Bixby can do that too for you. For example, if you want all WhatsApp notifications cleared, just say “Clear notifications from WhatsApp”. Incredible I will say!
ACCESS AND CHANGE SETTINGS
Some settings are easy to access, others are not so much. Some options are nested within other settings so deep, sometimes it is difficult to locate them. You can use the search function of Settings menu but it is not always convenient. Wouldn’t it be great if your personal assistant could handle all your tasks related to settings. Let’s see how these assistants can perform.
First, let’s try to perform some simpler tasks, such as turning Wi-Fi on or off. You will see that all the three digital personal assistants are quite effective at performing simple, regular tasks. You could easily turn mobile data on or off, enable or disable Bluetooth and more.
I was surprised and disappointed to see Google Assistant perform so poorly with the more complicated jobs. I asked it to turn the Night Mode on and it had no clue what to do. I used a combination of phrases but to no avail. Bixby was good. I had to try a couple of times but finally, it was able to enable the Night Mode. Siri, however, was very swift and it came as a pleasant surprise to me. I had to give the command just once and it turned the Night Mode on almost instantly.
LAUNCHING AND USING THE APPS
Apps are what we use all the time on our smartphone. This is why it is extremely important for a personal assistant to carry out the app related tasks easily and effectively.
All the three personal assistants are pretty good at launching the apps. You just need to say “Launch App Name” or “Run App Name”.
But, the big question is, how well can these assistants help you interact with the app and carry out in-app tasks?
I would like to make it clear that none of the assistants are able to do everything within an app that you can do with your fingers. It is about which assistant can do more than the other.
I found Bixby and Google Assistant going shoulder to shoulder here. If I had to pick one, I would put the finger on Bixby. It was smoother and faster. Siri, on the other hand, isn’t quite capable of handing the in-app tasks really well.
ADDING CALENDAR ENTRIES AND SETTING ALARMS
Most users who use a digital assistant need to create the calendar entries and also set the alarms quite regularly. You may also need to set the reminders at times. These are the most basic tasks and all the three assistants are equipped to carry them out quite easily. So, I will say it is a tie here. Nothing really much to choose from!
REGULAR USER QUERIES
The least you expect from your assistant is the ability to answer some of your questions. All the three personal assistants have been designed to handle the user queries. But, not all perform equally well in this respect.
For normal queries like, “How is the weather?” all these assistants present the answer readily. But, when it comes to contextual or more complex queries, a winner emerges.
If you like to ask a lot of questions for which the assistant must look up the web, Bixby would not necessarily your pick. It can handle easy questions and fails badly with the difficult ones.
Siri is a little better as it works a few times.
Google Assistant is definitely a winner in this case. It is able to answer almost all the questions. That’s probably because it looks into the best search database of Google. We have all used Google search engine and we know how smart it has become over time.
HOW HUMAN IS MY ASSISTANT?
We know that the digital personal assistants are based on AI and are backed by powerful algorithms. But, the whole point of creating an assistant is to make it as humanely as possible. Of course, we have a very long way to go. But, at least the developers try to add a dash of ‘human’ to it.
So, when you ask the assistant to tell you a joke, all three of them have something for you. But, Siri doesn’t seem to have a big pool of jokes as it gets repetitive very quickly. Bixby is a bit better. But, Google Assistant is simply superb. It looks like it has an unlimited pool of jokes and one-liners.
When it is about being human, I think Siri is a bit too forthright (borderline rude perhaps). I asked the assistants to sing a song to me. Siri said, “I’d rather leave that to the professionals”. Bixby rapped and Google Assistant actually sang a few lines.
Bixby vs Google Assistant vs Siri- THE VERDICT
Over to the juries now! And, you are going to be the jury here. After having tested these assistants over various parameters, I find it hard to pick a winner. Each one of them is great at some things and not so good at others. For example, If you’d like better control over your smartphone and carry out complex tasks, Bixby clearly stands out. If you need to ask a lot of questions, Google Assistant walks out a clear winner. Siri too shows flashes of greatness at times. This is why, it ultimately boils down to your personal needs. Evaluate your needs and pick an assistant accordingly.