Voice Assistants for Accessibility: Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa, and Bixby

Siri, google assistant, alexa, cortana and bixby logos
*Update: when this blog was published in November 2017, Alexa was only available in 3 countries. In December 2017, Amazon announced a massive expansion to offer Echo devices in over 80 countries.

Recently, we highlighted intelligent voice assistants as one of the four most recent trends in the assistive technology industry because of their ability to reduce many barriers to accessing mobile technologies for individuals with physical disabilities, vision or hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

An intelligent voice assistant is a software that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) with a human-like interface. Elements include voice response that simulates conversations and integration with different applications and platforms to create a virtual identity that users can interact with.

Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon Alexa and Samsung's Bixby all have the same function but offer different features on different devices. Each service continuously adds new and innovative features to keep up with the competition, and now, each service offers hands-free activation with a voice command - a must-have feature for Tecla users.

Apple's Siri

Apple Siri

Image Source - (Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns)

Availability: iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch) and macOS, currently available in 36 countries.

Hands-free command: "Hey Siri"

Notable features:

  • Tap to edit: If Siri misunderstands something you say, you can tap the dictated text and edit it using the keyboard.
  • Add punctuation to an email or message. When you’re dictating to Siri, simply say what punctuation you want to use as you speak.
  • Integration with other applications: e.g. "send an e-transfer to Linda for $50" or "order me an Uber"
  • Teach Siri pronunciation: if Siri pronounces your name wrong, you can teach her to say it correctly.

Not sure what to ask? Ask Siri "what do I say" and she will give you a list of functions and command that she is able to perform.

Google Assistant

Google home

Availability: select Android Marshmallow and Nougat phones and Google Home, currently available in eight languages.

Hands-free command: "Ok Google"

Notable features:

  • Unlock your phone with your voice by enabling OK Google Detection and Trusted Voices.
  • Application: the Google Assistant app offers a separate interface to ask the same commands and is an easier way to discover features.
  • Protect your information: You choose what to share with your Google Assistant. If you ever ask your Assistant for help from other services, you stay in control of the information that you share by managing or deleting your past conversations with your Assistant at any time.

Here is a list of the various commands that Google Assistant can perform and you can experiment with.

Microsoft Cortana

Microsoft Cortana

Image Source - (Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns)

Availability: Windows 10, iOS and Android devices, Harman Kardon INVOKE, currently available in 13 countries.

Hands-free command: "Hey Cortana"

Notable features:

  • Improved search function: In addition to the Internet, Cortana can also search the contents of your computer or your OneDrive storage to find what you're looking for.
  • Location-based reminders: Set a reminder with a location, such as a grocery store, so Cortana can remind you to pick up milk the next time you are at the store.

Amazon's Alexa

Amazon echo devices

Availability: Echo devices and other integrated products, currently available in only three countries.

Hands-free command: "Alexa"

Notable features:

  • Has over 15,000 "skills."
  • Can recognize multiple voices: users are asked to read 10 phrases allowed as data to create a voice profile to create a more personalized experience.
  • Can be used to interact with the Amazon Shopping app to for an innovative hands-free shopping experience.
  • Available on many third-party products.
  • Can be integrated with tecla-e.

Samsung Bixby

Samsung Bixby

Image Source - (Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns)

Availability: Galaxy Note8 and S8, currently available in 200+ countries.

Hands-free command: "Hey Bixby"

Notable features:

  • Bixby Vision: Focus on an object through your viewfinder, tap the Vision icon and instantly launch into a mode that identifies landmarks, translates foreign languages and allows you to shop an item online.
  • Access the settings of your device with voice command
  • Handle more complicated tasks: e.g. opening an app in split-screen view or rotating a photo.

One of our favourite people, Todd, has been using Siri in conjunction with Tecla for a few years. Learn more about his internet-enabled home and how he uses Siri here.

Do you use one of these intelligent virtual assistants? If so, leave a comment below of the favourite things it does for you.

Click here to learn more about tecla-e


Oct 19, 2018 • Posted by Tecla Team

Thanks for letting us know JD! We added an editor’s note to the blog.

Oct 19, 2018 • Posted by JD Roberts

Echo is available in over dozens countries, not just three. There may be confusion because some of the music services, like Spotify, are only available in a couple of countries. And in many countries the service is only available in English. But Alexa in general and specifically Alexa to control smart home devices is available in most countries that Amazon can ship to.


Aug 29, 2018 • Posted by peterprism

All the mobile devices which have different operating system has their own assistant for the devices such as for Android it has Google assistant, for Windows it has Cortana and for the itunes support IOS it has Siri and all the assistants are very much useful for their devices.

Leave a comment: