5 voice-activated assistants taking on 21st -century chores

Want to order that Snuggie you saw on TV? Ask Alexa (or Google or Siri). Need an easy-to-follow audio recipe for chicken parmesan? They can help with that, too.

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The home-assistant market has boomed over the past five years, offering users quick web access for anything that comes to mind. The Google Home had more than 16 million users in 2018 alone, according to tech-data site Voicebot. The Amazon Echo had a whopping 40 million.

Globally, home-assistant sales have risen 96 percent since last year, hitting 30 million in the second quarter of 2019. Here are five of the hottest devices driving this growing market:

Amazon Alexa

Despite some privacy concerns, Amazon’s Alexa is one of the most popular home assistants. The company announced this year that it has sold 100 million Alexa devices.

VIENNA,AUSTRIA - April 4 : Amazon Alexa Echo Plus on a white table with green plants in the background

Ranging from $50 to $200, these assistants can make your calls, update you on news and weather, tell you a joke and play your favorite tunes on a single voice command.

Apple HomePod

One of Alexa's rivals is Apple’s Siri-enabled HomePod. The company sold 3 million in 2018, suggesting more than $1 billion in sales, based on a starting price of $249.

FILE PHOTO: A prototype Apple HomePod is seen during the annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Google Home

The world’s No. 1 search engine has its own voice assistant, Google Home, with mini, standard and hub versions available at different price points.

Some 52 million of the devices were sold in 2018, according to Royal Bank of Canada analyst Mark Mahaney, and 43 million went to homes in the United States.

Microsoft Cortana

Microsoft may not have created its own speaker yet, but the company has added its virtual assistant, Cortana, into numerous laptops, desktops and tablets with a Windows operating system, including the popular Microsoft Surface lineup.

The software giant also has a partnership with audiophile staple Harman Kardon that has produced a Cortana-enabled smart speaker.

In a report from tech reviewer Tom’s Guide, Windows 10 was installed on over 700 million devices as of June 2018 and snagged the title of most popular operating system in the world since it runs “on 39.2 percent of all PCs.”


Samsung Bixby

Samsung has rolled out its own voice assistant across its Android smartphone lineup. Samsung Galaxy owners can use spoken commands to open apps, save notes and reminders, ask questions, send messages and more.

Samsung Bixby. (Courtesy of Android Authority.)

Samsung was the most popular smartphone brand in 2018, according to market intelligence firm Newzoo. The company boasted 893 million active devices and a market share of 27 percent.