How to Teach Your New Smart Speaker to Understand Your Voice

Not all smart speakers are created equal. In fact, some barely meet the qualifications to be called “smart” in the first place—but they’re getting better at answering your questions, assuming they can understand what you’re saying.

Investment firm Loup Ventures recently finished auditing the performance of Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana by seeing how each assistant responded to 800 different questions. It ran this test last year, too, and compared the results to see how much each smart speaker improved.

While all the tested assistants understood more than 99 percent of the questions the analysts asked this year, that doesn’t mean that everyone always has a great conversation with their smart speaker. If yours struggles to understand what you’re saying, it’s not going to have much of a chance to get you the right answers. We’ll get to the training tips in a moment. First, here’s a quick look at Loup Ventures’ test results:

  • First Place: Google’s Assistant
    Google’s Assistant answered 88 percent of questions correctly—up from 81 percent in the December 2017 test—and understood all 800 questions. It was the best-performing digital assistant in Loup Ventures’ analysis.
  • Second Place: Apple’s Siri
    Siri correctly answered 75 percent of this year’s questions versus 52 percent of last year’s questions.
  • Third Place: Amazon’s Alexa
    Alexa answered 64 percent of the questions correctly last year and 73 percent correctly this year.
  • Fourth Place: Microsoft’s Cortana
    Cortana’s got 56 percent answers right last year and 63 percent right this year.