What are Alexa, Siri, Cortana & Google Assistant?

You may have heard the names Alexa, Siri and Cortana before in relation to technology, and in fact, you may have used them, but what exactly are they? As you see in the title above, I have added the additional wording ‘Google Assistant’ which gives us a clue to what these applications are – they are your very own virtual assistant!

Your very own virtual assistant


Alexa is Amazon’s virtual personal assistant. It has been around for about two years, and it lives inside the company’s Echo smart speaker, among other Amazon devices. It offers users the ability to dictate commands to the assistant to control products throughout their home, listen to music, make to-do lists, order shopping through Amazon, and more.


Siri is the name of Apple’s personal digital assistant. It’s basically voice control that talks back to you, that understands relationships and context. Ask Siri questions, or ask Siri to do things for you, in the same way you would ask a real assistant, and Siri will help keep you connected, informed, in the right place, and on time. You can use Siri to book restaurants, set timers, check the weather forecast, update your Facebook status, and more.


Microsoft say that “Cortana is your digital agent. She’ll help you get things done.” She can support you by giving you reminders, keeping your notes and lists, taking care of tasks and helping manage your calendar. Cortana lives in Windows Smartphones and on Windows 10 PCs and laptops. She can also be installed on some Android phones.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is Google’s very own voice-controlled smart assistant. It is considered an upgrade or an extension of Google Now and expands on Google’s existing “OK Google” voice controls. It works seamlessly with Google Home (similar to Amazon’s Echo system) allowing you to control your home with voice commands.

Which is the best?

All of the assistants mentioned here have good and bad points, however Google Assistant, although being the newest, appears to have the best results in comparison testing, and it also has better applications for the future. These assistants are sure to be a bigger part of our future, but are we becoming lazier the more we depend on technology at home?

This ‘Technology’ article was written for an expat magazine in Spain. The readers of this magazine are often middle to old aged and not very technology minded so we have designed the articles with these people in mind, however they can be enjoyed by everyone, and perhaps even the most up-to-date techie may find them of interest too!

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