Virtual Assistant Apps vs. Real VAs: A Review
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Do virtual assistant apps stack up or perform as well as a real life virtual assistant? We review some for you.
If you find yourself missing deadlines, losing your to-do list or forgetting appointments, you can use virtual assistant apps on your smart phone to help organize your life and increase your productivity. A hot tech trend of 2015, Google, Yahoo and Apple have all got hold of Smart Virtual Personal Assistants (SVPAs) to incorporate into mobile apps which will help systematize just about every part of your day. And you can go Horrible Bosses on them without injuring a real person’s heart and spleen.
Here are some of the top personal assistant apps:
1. Apple’s Siri
You might already have met Siri if you are an iPhone user. A virtual assistant app that helps with daily activities such as scheduling appointments, setting an alarm, finding a restaurant. Siri also functions as a research assistant, answering even the most random questions you have. Siri has a striking human-like voice interaction. You can even crack jokes with it and chit-chat like she’s a regular person.
2. Google Now
If you want more than just an app that answers your every question, Google Now is practically a virtual Emily Charlton from The Devil Wears Prada, a less snippy and just as credible assistant in getting the job done. Google Now is available for Android and iOS and for desktop. It is an intelligent personal assistant that gives you assistance anytime and organizes everything you have. Information is organized into cards that are easy to search when you need info. You can customize the cards so you see the highly relevant ones such as sports scores, weather, and traffic. It also includes song recognition, barcode scanning and even storing your boarding pass.
3. Facebook’s Moneypenny
James Bond fans are quite familiar with this name. Facebook is currently trying to have their own version of Moneypenny in their Messenger app. Rumor has it that it will help you ask real people for help with some things – shopping and research. Other details are pretty non-existent at the moment and no release date has been given.
This is a virtual assistant app that works like your second brain. It auto-generates notes so you are always on time with your bills, meetings and events. It is a clutter free app that perfectly combines your notes, calendar and to-do lists in one. If you tend to forget birthdays, 24me can be synced with Facebook and will remind you to message your friends. You can also share notes with friends and coworkers. This is one of the top 10 productivity apps on the App Store and is also available for Android.
Facebook genius Mark Zuckerberg uses Quip, so it’s probably worth downloading. It is the virtual office used by Instagram, Facebook and Quora. It lets users collaborate with others on spreadsheets, checklists and documents. You can create, share, or import documents so others can view and update them too. You can review the edits made and check in with your partners on its sidebar.
6. Dragon Go!
In some ways, Dragon Go! works better than Siri. You can turn your iOS device into your own personal secretary. It will look for theaters near you with a geo-location match; put Fandango on screen for movie times as well as fetch an app you want to buy from the App Store. It leverages the power of tons of websites and apps from restaurant reservations to Twitter to YouTube.
Some say Robin is the Siri for Android. It is an interactive voice-based personal assistant for Android users. It will inform you of weather conditions, nearby gas and parking, and local traffic information. Robin also learns every time you use it, so you’ll have faster, more accurate answers the next time. When you authorize it, it can read your Twitter feed to you as well as post on Facebook. You can also use it to set reminders and alarms so you never forget a thing. Robin can be used while driving but most of its features require you to touch the screen.
A virtual buddy can help you through your daily tasks. These apps are also handy tools for your real life virtual assistant, without whom you’re not taking advantage of today’s internet and telecommuting advances.
Skilled virtual assistants still have MORE to offer, which are still largely absent from VA apps (and would stay absent, hopefully, because everyone from Stephen Hawking to Steve Jobs deem artificial intelligence too scary for mankind).
1. Versatile skill sets – Virtual assistants come with all manners of skills, training and experiences. Their versatility makes it easy to switch programs and modes. When you hire directly or utilize specific skill sets, a virtual assistant is an excellent resource particularly in managing offsite teams regardless of your project. A lot of virtual assistants are capable of working remotely with very little instruction. This reduces time spent on showing someone the ropes to complete tasks and projects.
2. Cost effective – You pay only for time spent on projects as opposed to late starts and coffee breaks. Granted, you’ll want to verify with your potential assistant whether they round up their time spent on tasks to the nearest quarter hour which is a common practice for freelancers paid hourly. Virtual assistants are not only paid hourly, but you can fire them if they give you sub-standard work. You are the boss and you can be picky with the standards of their work.
3. It’s the tech way – Whether you’re a starting small business entrepreneur or a huge company, you will encounter the latest gadgets, software, apps and tools relevant to your business. The freelance realm is always updated with what the Internet is offering, which in turn will help you advance as well.
Skilled virtual assistants and virtual assistant apps let you run your company with economy, downscaling and expanding as needed. The VA you hire should already have everything you need. There are plenty of risks when hiring freelancers, but the long list of positive outcome outweighs it when you outsource to highly skilled teams. This makes VAs and apps in-demand in this age of the cloud’s sharing economy.