Intelligent Personal Assistants, Amazon Echo, Google Assistant


Intelligent Personal Assistants are a new emerging technology that seems to be the battleground for various vendors.

Since the computers came into existence the main mode of interaction has been the keyboard, punched cards, mouse, Graphical User interface, and touch. Keyboard itself has seen many variations from mechanical to non-mechanical.  It is the non-mechanical version, also the touch that is being currently used on mobile devices.

Hence all interactions with a device(laptops, desktop, kiosks, mobile devices) has been with us physically touching the device.

Voice is emerging as an alternate User Interface (UI) to interact with our devices, and an attempt to liberate us from the need to physically interact with the device.

In order for the voice commands to be interpreted, there needed to be an interface that would capture the voice commands  and translate them to instructions for the device to execute and when required, instead of displaying the results visually, communicate them to you via audio.

Following vendors are considered the leaders of the pack, with Amazon clearly taking the lead:

Vendor Intelligent Personal Assistant Initial Release User Interfaces
Apple Siri 4th October, 2011 Apple mobile devices,  released for MAC OS in 2014
Google Google Now 9th July, 2012 Full functionality: Android devices running Jelly Bean and above, Chrome OS

Limited functionality: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux via Google Chrome and Google App

Microsoft Cortana 2nd April, 2014 Any device using Windows 10.  Only available in US on Android and IOS
Amazon Alexa 6th November, 2014 In works since 2010, the product was released as Amazon Echo. Two additional speaker products were introduced and also an integration with new Fire Tablet.
Viv Viv 9th May, 2016 Built by original creators of Siri, which was acquired by Apple on 28th April, 2010. It was supposed to be an open platform to accommodate external plug-ins.  In October 2016, Samsung Electronics acquired it, let’s see what the future holds.
Google Google Assistant (upgrade to Google Now) May, 2016 Google Home and Android devices running Nougat

There were also attempt by Blackberry, which introduced Blackberry Control with its Blackberry 10 OS release in January 2013.  It did not get much traction due to the dwindling Blackberry user base.

Amazon was the first to release a single function device to interact with its Intelligent Personal Assistant, Alexa, and it was called Echo. It is a smart speaker with integrated microphones to allow two way communications.

Google announced Google Home in response to Amazon Echo, and Apple is apparently also working on Siri Speaker.

Smart Speakers on market today

Vendor Release Date Intelligent Personal Assistant Product Price
Release Date Area
6th November, 2014 Amazon Prime and invited members in US
23rd June, 2015 Public release in US
28th September, 2016 Public release in UK
26th October, 2016 Public release in Germany
Alexa Echo US$179.99
Release Date Area
6th March, 2016 Public release in US
? Public release in UK
? Public release in Germany
Alexa Tap US$129.99
Release Date Area
6th March, 2016 Public release in US
20th October, 2016 Public release in UK
Alexa Dot US$49.99
Fabriq 30th October, 2016 Alexa Fabriq US$49.99
Nucleus 3rd August, 2016 Alexa Nucleus Anywhere Intercom with Alexa Voice Service US$214.55


  1. Google Now:
  1. Siri:
  1. Cortana:
  2. Viv:
  3. Amazon Echo:
  4. Blackberry Voice Control:
  5. Around The Coin: