Could Google's "ultimate personal assistant" win the virtual assistant war?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: December 27, 2013

Innovation in its purest form is arguably hard to come by in this industry. I mean, it's probably one of the most overused words here, but in a sense it's true. It's been a while since I've really seen something where I'm like wow, that's super innovative. The last time I really thought something was truly innovative was with the iPhone 4S and the introduction of Siri. Kind of funny that the last time I thought something was innovative came from the company that coined the term for the industry first. It's actually not that funny. Anyway...

So, Siri was the last thing I thought was innovative. It wasn't by any means perfect. In fact, it was far from it. It was still pretty polished for what it was worth, though, and they even had enough time to add some interesting responses when asked silly questions like "Siri, will you marry me?" "That's not in my licensing agreement." That Siri was always coming up with knee-slappers. She was also pretty good about setting appointments and sending text messages. There was a lot of things Siri was good at, but there was also quite a bit that needed to be worked on. Even today Siri isn't exactly the perfect personal assistant.

Google seems to be more interested in coming up with the perfect virtual personal assistant than Apple is, in recent reports. It seems that the search engine and tech giant is gearing up to make their virtual personal assistant a more thorough experience than its competitors. Given all that Google does, I wouldn't be one bit surprised to see them achieve this someday - and possibly someday soon.

As of right now, personal virtual assistants like Apple's Siri and even Google Now aren't really that good across the map. Siri is a lot better at some things than Google Now is, and Google Now is better at some things over Siri. In my opinion they're in the same boat. If I could combine them, they would be closer to perfect than anything. But since that's not going to happen, they're each going to have to make their own efforts to push forward at this point.

According to a report from TechCrunch, Google is reportedly aiming to create the "ultimate" personal assistant. They want to go about this in several ways; right now Google Now is just starting out with integrating certain aspects of your Internet usage, but in the future they're hoping to integrate a lot more. By "learning" from your searches and habits, Google Now might just know you better than you do (a little scary, but I suppose it could also be considered convenient). Google is also hoping to make it so that their personal assistant actually talks back to you with real conversation, which is something that'll probably take a couple of years' time (I'm guessing) in order to actually produce. The most important part of this "ultimate" personal assistant is that it wouldn't just be available on your smartphone - it would be available in a lot of places that you frequent throughout the day. Your car, your living room, your kitchen, etc. Sounds kind of crazy, but I guess a tried and true personal assistant is always learning from your habits to make your day-to-day life easier.

The whole idea seems pretty insane to me, but I'm trying to keep an open mind about it considering how against the "weird" features of the Moto X I was and it turned out that I loved them. I know I mention it a lot, but it's a good lesson to learn: just because you don't think you'll like it doesn't mean you won't. It's kind of like that Dr. Seuss book - the one with the green eggs and ham. You know the book. 

It will be interesting going into the next fear years and seeing how virtual personal assistants evolve. Will Google's idea take off? What about Microsoft's Cortana that's supposedly being introduced in Windows Phone 8.1? What kind of updates will Siri go through? It's impossible to tell right now, but we're sure to find out soon.

Readers, what are your thoughts on virtual personal assistants? Would you want to use Google's "ultimate" assistant? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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