When Amazon announced March 16 that it was putting its virtual assistant Alexa into Apple iPhones, we knew just where to go for a reaction.
“Siri,” we asked our iPhone, “are you upset that Amazon’s Alexa is in the iPhone now?”
Turns out, Apple’s Siri is fine with sharing smartphone turf with her rival artificial intelligence (AI) bot.
“Everything is most certainly OK,” she responded.
But it’s not, Siri. In the rapidly expanding world of virtual assistants, Alexa works for the competition, understand? Really, you two shouldn’t be hobnobbing around together in any mobile devices, but since Alexa was sort of foisted upon you in the iPhone, we understand you’re trying to make the best of it.
And Alexa herself has some cognitive issues Amazon might want to take a look at. Specifically, she has more loyalty to her fellow bot than to her employer. Asked what she thinks of Siri, Alexa had this to say:
“I’m partial to all AIs.”
The two virtual assistants’ answers showcase the fact that AI has a long way to go before it can actually think like a human (and be appropriately hostile and resentful as the situation may require).
While Siri is accessible in an iPhone via a button or on newer phones by voice command, Alexa lives in the Amazon app. Users with the app and an Amazon account just hit a microphone icon on the app screen to call up Alexa. Rollout started March 16 and was expected to be completed by the following week.
Amazon’s insertion of Alexa into the iPhone marks the opening of a new skirmish in a battle of the bots underway among the two tech titans, plus Google and Microsoft.
The fight for market share is playing out in phones, homes, cars and offices.
And sooner or later, Alexa and Siri are going to have to start pulling their weight, and quit playing nice.
Photo: Apple iPhone with the Amazon app open. (Bay Area News Group)