These three virtual assistants point the way to the future

Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Alexa -- yawn! We look at three new virtual assistants that raise the bar for usefulness, interactivity and personalization.

By Mike Elgan

 We all need a little help sometimes. After all, what are cloud-based, artificially intelligent software agents for?

By now we're all familiar with the usual suspects: Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa. They introduced most of us to the idea of talking to, rather than via, a phone, computer or home appliance.

But let's face it: These virtual assistants have become boring, banal commodities. Sorry, Siri: Your jokes are stale and your evolution slow.

More than anything else, Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa have left us wanting agents that can understand and interact with us better, independently take action in the real world for us -- and even change our lives.

Get ready to upgrade: A new crop of virtual assistants is on the way, led by Amy, Shae and Otto. Each in its own way represents the future of virtual assistants. One is in public beta, one is in private beta and one is a hardware prototype, but they're coming soon, and they collectively reveal how much better virtual assistants can be.


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