Google Assistant on a smartphone proved the most accurate digital assistant, but accuracy seems to have declined in the past three years for most of the seven devices tested, according to a recent report on voice assistants.
The findings from Perficient Digital’s annual update attempts to determine the smartest personal assistant. The study analyzed devices, asking Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant and Apple Siri about 4,999 questions to determine how smart they are.
Google assistant ranked about 98% in terms of accuracy rates in 2017, and fell to 95% in 2018 and 88% in 2019. Perhaps that why Google announced last week it would apply its BERT model to search to help the engine better understand natural language.
Introduced and open-sourced by Google last year, BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP).
Google Home and Google Home Hub came in second in terms of accuracy, about 85%, down from 95% in 2017. Amazon Alexa started at 1% in 2017 and fell to 78% this year. Apple Siri began with 85% in 2017 and fell to 70% this year. Microsoft started with 85% in 2017, rose to 91% in 2018, and then fell to 52% in 2019.
“This indicates the technologies may be reaching their peak capabilities,” wrote Eric Enge, digital marketing practice lead at Perficient Digital, in a report.
When it came to the percentage of answers attempted, Cortana took the top spot. The followers were Google Home Hub, Google Home, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo Show, and Apple Siri.
In each case the assistants are doing a better job at giving full and correct answers, with Microsoft Cortana making the most improvement at 80% in 2019, up from 65% in 2018, and 55% in 2017. Ironically Google Assistant fell in this category with about 72% in 2019, down from 78% in 2018, and 1% in 2017. Apple Siri came in virtually flat this year with 2018 up from about 31% in 2017.
Why do consumers use voice technology and digital assistants? The six top reasons suggest 68% search for a quick fact, 86% ask for direction, 48% search for a business, 44% search for product or service, 38% make a shopping list, and 31% compare product and services, according to the Microsoft stats cited by Perficient Digital in the report.