Does Asking Alexa Actually Save Time? An Investigation

Digital assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are easier to use than ever. Not only are they built into smart speakers, these days you can access them via your phone, TVs, and even your smartwatch.

But is using a digital assistant faster than figuring something out for yourself?

To figure this out, we teamed up with Lifehacker to pit human against AI across a series of tasks such as setting timers, answering basic questions, and checking the weather. While Lifehacker’s Abu Zafar relied on just his wits and smartphone, I depended on Amazon Alexa to do all my dirty work.


The results? Well, it depends. Alexa can be a bit verbose when it comes to things like reading the news, and sometimes you can save a few seconds just by whipping out your phone or using common sense. Other times, Alexa was a speedy alternative, especially if you want to multitask or need to keep your hands free. In either case, it mostly depends on how lazy you’re feeling versus how quickly you need something done. Me? I don’t mind waiting.

Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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With Alexa and a Harmony Hub, I can change channels/mute/pause/rewind my TV/cable from the kitchen (or wherever) with my voice.

“Alexa, pause TV” FTW

(And the Harmony Hub is infuriatingly stupid. It won’t let you control one component without wanting to turn others on/off. I wish there was something better, but it’s still like magic Really stupid magic, but magic nonetheless.)