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What are Virtual Assistants?

“Hey, Alexa! Turn off the lights.”

“Alexa! Close the window blinds.”

“OK, Google. Play Taylor Swift.”

“Hey, Siri. Send Mom a text message.”

In this day and age, the virtual assistant has become a necessity for households and families all over the world. Whether it’s requesting a song to be played, or changing the temperature inside a room, a virtual assistant can complete home tasks with just a simple, spoken request.

The first virtual assistant that became a common feature in modern devices was Siri, released by Apple in 2010. Siri is accessible through Apple products, like iPods, iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. Users can ask Siri to play a song from Apple Music, look up information on the Internet, text a contact, set reminders, and start timers. The benefit of Siri is the increased accessibility that the user experiences, allowing more opportunities for multitasking and productivity. By simply holding down a button and asking Siri a question, a user can get something done without having to move or swipe through different apps.

After Apple’s Siri, Google released a voice search option on its homepage in 2011, encouraging users to join a new generation of voice-activated searches. Nuance, a computer software company, released its own voice assistant in 2012, followed by Microsoft’s voice assistant in 2013. The famous Amazon Alexa was released in 2014 alongside the release of the Amazon Echo, and as of 2019, more than 3 billion voice assistants are in use every day.


Schwartz, E. H. (2020, January 3). The Decade of Voice Assistant Revolution. Retrieved from

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