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Virtual assistants: iPhone owners have been using them since 2011, Android users since 2017. Whether they’re called Siri, Google Assistant or Djingo Pro, they essentially share the same knowledge and abilities – they perform tasks they recognise from your voice commands.
Virtual assistants can boost your productivity considerably. Not only do they answer (almost) all of your questions, they can also do a host of things for which you lack the time or opportunity, such as:
- sending a text you dictate
- checking traffic conditions to let you know when it’s time to leave for your next appointment;
- booking a hotel for a business trip;
- reading or adding appointments to your calendar;
- adding or deleting tasks from your agenda.
Virtual assistants have two abilities that make this possible.They understand what you’re saying. And, in order to do as you ask, they access and combine various information sources. For example, to warn you that you’d better leave for your next appointment, the virtual assistant links your calendar to one or more databases with traffic information.
Virtual assistants use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand and interpret what you’re asking them and to learn from every single exchange they have with you. In short, the more you call on your virtual assistant, the smarter it will become.
The range of your virtual assistant will grow considerably when combined with the Internet of Things (IoT). This allows your smartphone (or a smart speaker) to ‘talk’ with other devices, such as the building management system at your office or place of business, making it possible for your virtual assistant to turn the thermostat to 20° and turn on the lights. On the shop floor, the virtual assistant enables you to operate computers, devices and machines hands-free, upgrading security and boosting productivity.
There are dozens of virtual assistants available on the market today. Below, we briefly discuss the two most successful ones and introduce Djingo Pro, the Orange Group’s very own virtual assistant.
As early as 2011, Apple launched Siri, the first modern virtual assistant on a smartphone. As part of iOS, Siri offers functionalities that we now consider normal for a virtual assistant. They range from making appointments, searching the internet and making online payments, to providing information on sporting events, films, the weather, traffic and even the performance of different currencies. Siri has been criticisedin recent times. Critics have been accusing Siri of a lack of innovation compared to competing virtual assistants. They claim the voice recognition feature is below par (Siri doesn’t always understand what you are saying) and the AI is outdated.
Google launched its Assistant in 2016. Critics say it is superior to Siri in terms of voice recognition and AI, especially after the 2018 addition of Duplex. This technology enables Google Assistant to conduct lifelike conversations and make a barber’s appointment or reserve a table at a restaurant. Google Assistant’s replies sound so human that people don’t always realise they’re talking to a machine.
Orange is the first Western European telecoms operator to offer its customers in France and Spain their very own virtual assistant. Djingo Pro uses AI to deliver a wide range of services enabling users to manage their digital worlds. Through voice commands, users can call people, request all kinds of information or manage Orange TV and other Orange services. Djingo Pro learns from user input to make its answers more and more relevant.