The 15 best personal assistant apps
Simplify your business and personal life by loading up your mobile device with a digital personal assistant.
Personal assistants can change your life, but they can be pricey. If you’re working for yourself or for a small company, or if you’re just feeling overwhelmed in your everyday life, hiring a personal assistant might sound like a pipe dream. But for a quick fix, many effective personal assistant apps can be downloaded completely free of cost on your mobile device. Some mobile devices even come standard equipped with virtual assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant—one study found that 42 percent of smart phone users, or 71 million people, used an artificial-intelligence-based personal assistant app.
While Siri remains one of the most familiar and highest-ranking personal assistant apps, Amazon’s Alexa saw a 325 percent increase in monthly unique users as of mid-2017. But don’t stop there. If you’re looking to step outside the box and find a platform more suitable for your needs, check out these free personal assistant apps for 2018.
1. Amazon Alexa
This voice-controlled assistant has the ability to connect your entire life. You’ll be able to use directives for thousands of smart home features, including lights, switches, TVs, thermostats and more. Check the weather. Hear the latest news. Connect your music and listen to your favorite songs on command. Request an Uber or order pizza. Alexa is available on Amazon devices, like the Fire Tablet/Stick, Echo, and Echo Dot, as well as in apps on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
You’re probably familiar with Siri, or at least the concept of it. Apple introduced this voice-activated feature in 2011, and they’ve been adding features ever since. Siri will answer your questions and give you sports updates. She’ll give you reminders and set alarms or timers while you’re cooking. Send texts and place calls or FaceTime just by using your voice. Siri makes it easy for you to life your life hands-free. It’s available on all Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod.
Microsoft calls Cortana a “digital agent.” It’s designed to learn from your commands to personalize your experience as you use it. You can type your queries, or talk to Cortana by saying “Hey Cortana!” It’s very similar to the Apple and Android options but is quickly gaining steam on Siri. Track packages, manager your calendar, or just chit chat with the virtual assistant. Cortana is available on Microsoft devices, including Windows phones and operating systems, as well as in apps on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
Google is known for its accessibility, and its assistant is available across a number of products. Get it on your phone, speaker, watch, laptop, TV, or in your car. It connects to frequently used products like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. You can tell your Roomba where to clean by using Google Assistant, and it’ll connect to smart home devices like a Nest thermostat. Google Assistant is available on Google Home, as well as apps on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
This assistant is like Siri for Samsung. It has a cool feature that lets you identify landmarks and other visuals by taking a photo. You can also translate foreign languages using Bixby, or point your camera at something you want to buy and it will give you pricing options. It will recommend businesses and restaurants, or create reminders and manage your schedule. Bixby is available on all Samsung devices, like the Galaxy S8.
The Dragon app has a cool new feature that detects when you’re driving and automatically switches to hands-free, eyes-free access. It includes voice notifications that will read back to you things like Facebook status updates, text messages, incoming calls, and upcoming appointments. Users can even use Dragon to update their social media just by speaking the status they’d like to post. Dragon Mobile Assistant is available on Google Play.
This app claims to be similar to Tony Stark’s JARVIS voice assistant. It’s friendly and helpful. Extreme can connect to Skype, WhatsApp, and many other core apps. Ask general questions, get sports scores, update Facebook, or communicate with friends and family via this assistant app. Extreme Personal Voice Assistant is available on Google Play.
DataBot is a virtual talking robot. Because DataBot is available on the Windows OS, you can also access it via Xbox One. It will customize itself based on your preferred language, voice, name, and behavior. It can speak and understand in English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, or Portuguese. Find your daily horoscope, learn new jokes, and play brain games with this app. DataBot Personal Assistant is available on Windows, Google Play, and the iTunes app store.
9. AIVC (Alice)
AIVC offers speech-based support in this Android app. Use your own voice, despite any regional accent you may have, to create tasks, write texts or emails, set alarms, dial phone numbers, and more. Control home devices like lights, thermostat, or fans, as long as devices are accessible via an HTTP-Interface. This free version does include ads. Alice is available on Google Play.
The Hound app claims to be the “best way to search using your natural voice.” It uses familiar sites like NPR, Accuweather, Yelp, Uber, Sportradar, and Expedia to complete common tasks and to give you the most up-to-date information. If you’re looking for a new car, consider a Hyundai, which in 2019 is launching a voice-enabled, AI-equipped car powered by Houndify. Hound is available on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
This app is an easy-to-use voice-activated assistant that offers many of the same features listed in the apps above. Lyra offers the added feature of continuing the same conversation across multiple devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers by logging in to keep everything connected. Its creator claims you can speak to Lyra in any dialect, as it is “capable of understanding multiple languages, context, and intent.” Lyra is available on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
This app comes equipped with a calendar, to-do list, and notes built in, so you don’t have to jump between these separate apps on your device. It will connect the things you use most in life, like utilities, service providers, banks, and social networks, and then it will automatically tell you what you need to do. In that sense, it’s very similar to an actual personal assistant, who might be tasked with managing your schedule and keeping things running on time. 24me is available on Google Play and the iTunes app store.
This app’s tagline at the top of its site is “Each year, you lose over 100 hours to organizing and planning.” If that’s the case, Butleroy will be extremely helpful to anyone needing a personal assistant. It will schedule your appointments in under 30 seconds by finding free time in your schedule, thus giving you even more time to live life. Butleroy is available on Google Play and the iTunes app store, as well as an Amazon Alexa Skill and via Facebook Messenger Chatbot.
Robin claims to be a personal eyes-free assistant while you’re driving. Everything is delivered by voice, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. Ask Robin for directions, places to park, the latest traffic updates, social media updates, gas station locations, or weather in your immediate location or wherever you’re traveling to. It’s still in beta, so features are constantly being added. Robin Voice Assistant is available on Google Play.
This is another app that is very similar to an actual personal assistant. If you’re in need of someone to take notes or to summarize your meetings, this is the app for you. Tetra uses artificial intelligence to take notes and keep your team in sync. Your team members can place conference calls through the app, which will highlight important moments from the call and will send notes to all members upon call completion, allowing everyone to focus on the conversation instead of having to take personal notes. Tetra is available on the iTunes app store.
Paid Virtual Assistant Apps
While the apps listed above are all free, there are still others on the market that come at a cost. Despite the added fees, you may find you’d prefer more personal assistance via paid apps that utilize actual human beings to complete requested tasks, such as Magic, Fin, PleaseDo, Hello Alfred, and Trove. Take some time to do your research and determine which is best for you and your business. Depending on your needs, you may find that it’s just as economical to use an online sites and apps like Care.com to hire a personal assistant near you.
Read next: The 12 best voice assistant hacks for kids
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