How AI Assistants Rank When It Comes to Understanding Accents

Michele Debczak
(L-R) Apple, Google, Amazon
(L-R) Apple, Google, Amazon / (L-R) Apple, Google, Amazon

An AI assistant can be a useful tool for sending emails, controlling appliances, and looking up information from wherever you’re standing. But if it can’t understand what you’re saying to begin with, it’s just a waste of desk space.

For the video below, WIRED chose three popular AI platforms—Google Home, Amazon Echo (or Alexa), and Apple's Siri—to test with a variety of non-American accents. Given the difficulty the speakers had pronouncing some of the words (like Worcestershire and Ouagadougou), each service performed better than you might expect. But the clear winner was Google Home, followed by Siri in second, and Alexa at the bottom.

In addition to comprehending people from Germany, Japan, and Scotland, a Google Home has no problem understanding the sound of its own voice. Here’s what happened when two Google Home devices got caught in an endless conversation loop earlier this year.