Want info on Starbucks or JetBlue? Better ask Google Assistant – CNET

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Bret Kinsella's research team wanted to find out which voice assistant was the best for asking about specific brands like Chevrolet, Adidas and Starbucks.

So his team at Voicebot.ai, a voice-computing and AI research outfit, asked four voice assistants hundreds of questions about brands, ranging from broader questions like "What is the longest-lasting lipstick?" to specific ones like "How do I contact JetBlue?" In all, they fed these bots over 4,000 queries.

What they found was stark. Google Assistant was the best, and it wasn't even close. In a new research study published Tuesday, Kinsella reports that Google Assistant on a phone offered correct results for 92% of queries, while Google Assistant on a smart speaker hit 81%.

Result from Voicebot's study, which showed Google Assistant's dominance.

Voicebot.ai

Things got much worse from there: Amazon's Alexa hit 34%, Samsung's Bixby reached 32% and Apple's Siri on the HomePod hit 28%.

These findings reinforce past studies that showed Google Assistant as the clear leader in voice responses, helped by Google's decades of work sorting and organizing internet search results. These studies shows that Google may remain the top contender in voice results for years to come, despite Amazon's work to hire thousands of Alexa engineers and its huge push to expand its voice assistant's capabilities. While Alexa still dominates the US smart speaker market, with about 70% of the devices sold already, Google continues to gain ground and could use its superior tech to eventually beat out Alexa.

The results also show that Apple's Siri continues to lag competitors despite its years of development.

Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung all didn't respond to a request for comment for this story.

Want info on Starbucks or JetBlue? Better ask Google Assistant     - CNET

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Separately, the Voicebot team found that if you ask Alexa or Google Assistant these basic questions about brands -- like "What is Chevrolet?" or "Where can I buy Starbucks?" -- you'll usually get a Wikipedia entry or Yelp review. While lots of brands now pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and maintain their own voice apps, Google and Amazon don't use them to answer these simple questions.

Kinsella believes that both the brands and the tech giants are the reason this happens. Amazon and Google seem to prefer directing these questions to other parts of the internet, namely Wikipedia, Yelp and web searches. Brands, meanwhile, have been focusing so much on more intricate voice apps, like the Domino's pizza delivery app, that they've missed some of the basics, he said.

"They can offer some pretty cool experiences," he added, "but can't answer basic questions."

Both of the leading voice assistants may be avoiding brands' apps for these questions to keep responses more neutral and less like an ad. After all, Kinsella's research mentions how some responses include negative information or mentions of rival brands, which is problematic for brands but may be beneficial for consumers.

Want info on Starbucks or JetBlue? Better ask Google Assistant     - CNET

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