The 13 best personal assistant apps

Feb. 5, 2020
The 13 best personal assistant apps

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. One study found that 42% of smartphone users, or 71 million people, used an artificial-intelligence-based personal assistant app. 

Some mobile devices even come standard equipped with virtual assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana or Google Assistant. When it comes to these standard assistants, a 2019 study showed that Google Assistant on a smartphone answered the most questions and had the most correct responses. Cortana came in second, followed by Amazon Alexa, and Siri’s accuracy actually dropped by about 12% from the previous year’s study. 

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 2020.

1. Google Assistant

Available on: Google Home | Apple Store | Google Play

Google is known for its accessibility, and its assistant is available across a number of products. Get Google Assistant 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 can connect to smart home devices like a Nest thermostat. 

2. Cortana

Available on: Standard on all Microsoft devices | Apple Store | Google Play

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, manage your calendar or just chit chat with the virtual assistant. Cortana is available on Microsoft devices, including Windows phones and operating systems. As of January, Cortana was still available on Google Play and the Apple Store, but it has been reported that support for these platforms may be eliminated.

3. Amazon Alexa

Available on: Amazon | Apple Store | Google Play

The Amazon Alexa 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 Apple Store.

4. Siri

Available on: Standard on all Apple devices

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 live your life hands-free. It’s automatically available on all Apple devices.

5. Bixby   

Available on: Standard on all Samsung devices

The Bixby 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. 

6. Extreme Personal Voice Assistant   

Available on: Chrome Web Store | 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. 

7. DataBot

Available on: Windows | Chrome Web Store | Apple Store | 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. 

8. AIVC (Alice)   

Available on: Chrome Web Store | Amazon

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. 

9. Hound   

Available on: Apple Store | 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, Honda or KIA. Some models of these vehicles now include voice-enabled AI, powered by Houndify. 

10. Lyra Personal Assistant   

Available on: Chrome Web Store | Apple Store | Google Play

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.” 

11. 24me  

Available on: Apple Store

The 24me 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. 

12. Butleroy   

Available on: Apple Store

This app claims that every 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.

13. Robin Voice Assistant  

Available on: Google Play

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. 

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 and Hello Alfred. And some apps above, like AIVC and 24me, have paid versions that are free of ads and offer more features than the free versions. 

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 websites and apps like Care.com to hire a personal assistant near you.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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