Amazon Echo is hands down one of my favourite gadgets.
Most people compare it to Siri, Apple’s nearly five-year-old voice assistant that’s available in iPhones, iPads, and the Apple TV. (Mac support is coming soon, apparently). But Amazon’s solution, in my personal experience, is so much better than Siri.
Siri has some advantages over Echo: Since it’s part of your iPhone, you can use Siri on the go and in most places. Also, you can’t use Echo to place calls or send texts or emails. But for the most part, Amazon Echo’s “Alexa” is the superior voice assistant.
These are the five most significant ways Amazon Echo is better than Siri.
When Apple introduced Siri in 2011, its first ads made it seem like Siri would instantly respond to every one of your queries. But that wasn't the case -- and almost five years later, Siri still takes several moments to understand your command and give you an answer. Amazon Echo responds in just a fraction of the time it takes Siri to talk to you, and this fluidity makes the experience feel much more fun and natural, like you have a living personal assistant in your home.
I can talk directly into my iPhone's microphone and Siri still only understands my commands about half the time. I have to speak to Siri very slowly and deliberately (see: not naturally) since she frequently misunderstands what I'm telling her, which can be very frustrating. Amazon Echo, on the other hand, understands almost everything I tell her; sometimes she can get confused if I ask her to play obscure artists that are difficult to pronounce, but that's easy to forgive.
You can talk to Amazon Echo even if you're nowhere near the device. Echo sits in my kitchen, but it can hear me perfectly from my bedroom with the door closed, or, more impressively, from my bathroom with the door closed and the shower on. Yes, I've actually talked to Echo several times while in the shower and she has no problem understanding me, thanks to her seven different microphones that are always on and listening.
Siri, on the other hand, can have problems even if I'm just a few inches away from my smartphone -- and even just a little background noise can give Siri trouble (she frequently dictates things she hears from other people talking, or from the television). I've never experienced this issue with Echo.
Amazon Echo is all about audio. It can speak loudly and clearly when you ask it commands, but it's also a great speaker for playing music, news reports, audiobooks, and more. If you crank up the volume, you can hear Amazon Echo from anywhere in the house. Not so with Siri: it's good for playing music if you're a few feet nearby, but its speaker system is limited to your iPhone or iPad. The experience isn't nearly as good, and audio doesn't fill the room like it does with Echo.
Amazon Echo improves every single week with new features and skills you can use. And so, every single Friday, Amazon sends every Echo customer an email detailing all those changes. It's great to be able to keep tabs on all the improvements, I just wish Apple did something similar with Siri, which arguably has more features than Echo: It can call, text, and email someone for you, it knows sports data and movie trivia, and so much more. But most people (myself included) wouldn't know about half of the features Siri keeps adding without looking them up first. With every Echo update, I feel like I'm on the same journey as Amazon as its services continue to expand and improve.