Seasons change. Technology, too. Even language is dynamic, constantly making adjustments as humans evolve. I try to keep up with the latest and greatest changes in technology, but this week I came across a new term that seems unfit, overly broad, but an easy way to describe something that is not quite a thing yet.
What is a smart platform?
I know, right? Is it a Mac? Windows PC? Smartphones? Some kind of specialized commercial server farm? No. Talking speakers– I’m thinking Amazon Echo and Alexa, Google Home and Assistant, and I’m required by law to throw Apple’s HomePod and Siri into the mix– have evolved into a so called smart platform.
Ben Patterson thinks there are only two smart platforms in the world today.
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and snap up your first smart speaker or display (trust us, you’ll love it). Here’s the big question, though: Should you pick one that answers to Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant?
Hello? Anybody ever heard of Apple’s HomePod? Siri? HomeKit? I guess not.
Alexa, Echo devices boast the greatest number of smart integrations, the smartest routines (or programmable actions that are triggered by various circumstances), the most third-party skills (or, at least, the easiest to discover), and the widest variety of hardware.
What is interesting here is that Echo and Assistant are considered platforms with only a few dozen million installations worldwide, while Siri– with about 1.5-billion devices worldwide and with similar capabilities– is not considered worthy of, well, consideration.
The only mention of Apple and Siri has to do with the privacy scandal earlier this year, and changes all three companies have made to how they listen to commands in an effort to improve responses.
Alexa and Google Assistant let you set up “routines,” which are actions (or a series of actions) triggered by a specific event. You can, for example, set Alexa or Google Assistant to turn on your lights, tell you the weather, and then read the news when you say, “Good morning,” or dim the lights, close your curtains, and turn down the thermostat when you say, “I’m going to bed.”
These are things Siri can do, too. Siri Shortcuts are enormously valuable, easily customized, and work with third-party applications and hardware.
Patterson wanders through a laundry list of capabilities, then declares a winner for each.
- Best smartphone compatibility
- Best at answering random questions
- Best at routines
- Best digital photo frame features
- Best built-in home security
- Biggest range of devices
- Most actions and apps
Just so you know, Amazon Echo won all but three, Google’s Home and Assistant won two and tied one. Somehow Apple has missed the boat entirely on the biggest new thing– the smart platform.