Made by Amazon
Origins: Alexa is the name Amazon gave the digital assistant
living inside its Echo home device, which started selling
widely in June 2015.
Functions: Alexa began with limited uses, most
often responding from the in-home speaker to requests for things
like weather and news. Alexa can also find a radio station from
TuneIn. It's an Amazon pitchwoman through and through, so it will
take commands like remembering your shopping list.
Major malfunction: Alexa isn't in your phone;
it's stuck inside the Echo or the newer Dot device. Amazon just
made it available in its tablets.
Upgrades: This fall, Alexa connected with
Amazon's TV device to control streaming video. And it made the leap
from simply taking dictation around shopping lists to now placing
the orders. Alexa also has a program to control the home
environment. Tinkerers have hacked the device to perform functions
like starting their Tesla cars remotely.
Marketing: The company is running an ambitious
series of 100 digital vignettes called "Alexa Moments," 10 seconds
each, to show its versatility. Tool of North America is the
Made by Microsoft
Origins: Cortana was introduced in 2014, named
after the AI
character in the hit Xbox game "Halo."