Automated Online Assistant
Spanish language text-based chatbot in virtual assistant running on Telegram messaging app

A virtual assistant is a software agent that can perform tasks or services for an individual. A chatbot, a term often used interchangeably, is in fact a virtual assistant accessed via online chat. As of 2017, the most widely used virtual assistants include:

Virtual assistant Developer Interaction method Access on device(s) Accessed within apps/sites Developer platform
Alexa Amazon Voice; text chat (since April 2017) Amazon Echo and hundreds of devices --- Lex
Bixby Samsung Image upload; voice planned Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone Integrated into 20 apps (April 2017)[1] SDK forthcoming (April 2017)[2]
Cortana Microsoft Voice Computers and other devices running Microsoft Windows No, integrated into Microsoft Windows OS Cortana SDK
Google Assistant Google Voice, text chat Google Home smart speaker, Google Allo smartphone app, integrated into Google Pixel smartphone Google Allo app on smartphones Actions on Google and
M Facebook Text chat Smartphones via apps, other devices via Web Embedded within Facebook Messenger and Facebook (mobile apps and web pages) ---
Siri Apple Voice On iOS/watchOS devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch No, embedded into device OS ---

Method of interaction

Virtual assistants make work via:

Some virtual assistants are accessible via multiple methods, such as Google Assistant via chat on the Google Allo app and via voice on Google Home smart speakers.

Virtual assistants use natural language processing (NLP) to match user text or voice input to executable commands. Many continually learn using artificial intelligence techniques including machine learning.

Devices and objects where found

Virtual assistants may be integrated into many types of platforms or, like Amazon Alexa, across several of them:


Virtual assistants can provide a wide variety of services, and particularly those from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant grow by the day. These include:[10]

  • Provide information such as weather, facts from e.g. Wikipedia or IMDB, set an alarm, to-do lists, shopping lists,
  • Play music from streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora; play radio stations; read audiobooks
  • Play videos, tv shows or movies on televisions, streaming from e.g. Netflix
  • Buy items from e.g. Amazon
  • Complement and/or replace customer service by humans.[11] One report estimated that an automated online assistant produced a 30% decrease in the work-load for a human-provided call centre.[12]

Third-party services

Amazon enables Alexa "Skills" and Google "Actions", essentially apps that run on the assistant platforms.

Developer platforms

The platforms that power the most widely used virtual assistants are also used to power other solutions:

  • Amazon Lex was opened to developers in April 2017. It involves natural language understanding technology combined with automatic speech recognition and had been introduced in November 2016.[13]
  • Google provides the Actions on Google and platforms for developers to create "Actions" for Google Assistant[14]
  • Apple provides SiriKit for developers to create extensions for Siri
  • IBM's Watson, while sometimes spoken of as a virtual assistant is in fact an entire artificial intelligence platform and community powering some virtual assistants, chatbots. and many other types of solutions.[15]

Previous generations

In previous generations of text chat-based virtual assistants, the assistant was often represented by an avatar of (a.k.a. 'interactive online character or automated character) -- this was known as an embodied agent.

Full comparison of assistants

Intelligent personal assistant Developer Availability Free software Free and open-source hardware HDMI out External I/O Retail price Internet of things integration Chromecast integration Smart phone app Always on Unit to unit voice channel
Alpha(Persian)[third-party source needed] ? multiple Yes N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Assistant Speaktoit Play Store No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Aido[third-party source needed] ? not released No N/A N/A N/A US$549 Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Alexa (a.k.a. Echo) list No No No No US$179 Yes No Yes Yes  ?
ANNA NECjAR multiple No N/A N/A N/A -- Yes No No Yes N/A
Autonomous[third-party source needed] ? ? No N/A N/A N/A varies Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Bixby Samsung Electronics Galaxy S8 No N/A N/A N/A -- N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
BlackBerry Assistant BlackBerry Limited BlackBerry 10 No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Braina Brainasoft Windows No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Cortana Microsoft multiple No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Evi True Knowledge App No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Google Assistant Google ? No N/A N/A N/A US$129 Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Google Now Google Play Store No N/A N/A N/A -- Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A
Hound SoundHound multiple No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes Yes N/A
Ivee[third-party source needed] ? not released No N/A N/A N/A US$99 Yes No Yes Yes N/A
James[third-party source needed] Boost AI multiple No N/A N/A N/A N/A Yes No Yes No N/A
Jibo[third-party source needed] ? not released No N/A N/A N/A US$749 Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Kore[third-party source needed] ? multiple No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Maluuba Maluuba not released No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
M Facebook in beta
Mycroft[16] Mycroft AI multiple Yes Yes Yes Yes US$154 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nina Nuance Communications web-based No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Remi[third-party source needed] ? Android No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
SILVIA Cognitive Code API No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Siri Apple Inc. App Store No N/A N/A N/A -- Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Turbo AI[third-party source needed] Phonemetra Inc. Play Store No N/A N/A N/A US$99 Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Lucida[third-party source needed] ? Github Yes N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Viv Samsung Electronics not released No N/A N/A N/A -- Yes No Yes No N/A
Vlingo Vlingo multiple No N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes No N/A
Your.MD[third-party source needed] ? multiple Yes N/A N/A N/A -- No No Yes Yes N/A

See also


  1. ^
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  8. ^ "Ask Jenn", Alaska Airlines website
  9. ^ "American Airlines (US Airways) - First US Airline to Deploy Natural Language Speech" (video), Nuance Enterprise on YouTube
  10. ^
  11. ^ Kongthon, Alisa; Sangkeettrakarn, Chatchawal; Kongyoung, Sarawoot; Haruechaiyasak, Choochart (2009-01-01). "Implementing an Online Help Desk System Based on Conversational Agent". Proceedings of the International Conference on Management of Emergent Digital EcoSystems. MEDES '09. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 69:450-69:451. doi:10.1145/1643823.1643908. ISBN 9781605588292. 
  12. ^ Aetna's new "virtual online assistant" By Anthony O'Donnell. Insurance & Technology. June 03, 2010 Archived June 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Janakiram MSV (20 August 2015). "Meet Mycroft, The Open Source Alternative To Amazon Echo". Forbes. Retrieved 2016. 

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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