When it comes to knowing stuff, Google Assistant on Google Home rules the virtual assistant world, according to results of a study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting earlier this year and released today.\nMicrosoft\u2019s Cortana was the second smartest, and Apple\u2019s Siri and Amazon\u2019s Alexa brought up the rear.\nThough Google ruled, \u201cCortana is pressing quite hard to close the gap, and has made great strides in the last three years\u201d in terms of smartness, Stone Temple says. Unlike Google, \u201cAlexa and Siri both face the limitation of not being able to leverage a full crawl of the web to supplement their knowledge bases. It will be interesting to see how they both address that challenge.\u201d\n Derek Walter\nLet\u2019s break down the research.\nHow the study was performed\nStone Temple asked each virtual assistant 5,000 different questions and compared the answers to Google search results. The assistants were ranked based on five criteria:\n* If the assistant answered a question verbally;\n* If an answer came from a database, such as Google\u2019s Knowledge Graph;\n* If an answer came from a third-party source, such as Wikipedia;\n* How often a query stumped the assistant;\n* If the device tried to respond to a query but simply got the answer wrong.\nStone Temple didn\u2019t ask the virtual assistant devices to perform an action, such as hailing a Lyft or ordering a Starbucks drink. The goal was simply to determine which \u201cwas the smartest from a knowledge perspective.\u201d\nThe research results\nThe Google Assistant on Google Home answered 68.1 percent of the questions, with 90.6 percent of answers being \u201ccomplete and correct.\u201d\nCortana answered 56.5 percent of questions and got 81.9 percent complete and correct.\nBut Siri only answered 21.7 percent of questions and nailed 62.2 percent of them completely, correctly.\nIn last place for percentage of questions answered was Alexa on Amazon Echo, answering just 20.7 percent of questions. However, of the queries Alexa answered, 87 percent were complete and correct, just behind Google Assistant\/Google Home.\nNot surprisingly, Google search answered nearly 80 percent of the queries, and got nearly 100 percent of them correct and complete.\nSo, what caused variations in how correct and complete an answer was? Five things:\n* There\u2019s more than one way to answer the query. Example: The question \u201cHow fast does a Jaguar go\u201d could refer to an animal or a luxury vehicle.\n* The assistant may answer a query it doesn\u2019t understand with an answer that\u2019s reasonably close, but no cigar. Example: When Stone Temple asked Siri about \u201cawards for Louis Armstrong,\u201d Apple\u2019s virtual assistant answered with a link to a movie about the beloved musician. Similar responses \u201caccounted for a large number of the \u2018not 100% correct\u2019 scenarios on Siri,\u201d according to Stone Pilot.\n* The assistant may have provided a partially correct response.\n* When it didn\u2019t know the answer, the assistant may have responded with a joke.\n* Last possibility: The assistant was just dead wrong in its answer.\nWhich virtual assistant is the funniest?\nSiri answered the most questions with a joke, followed by Alexa, Google Assistant on Google Home, and Cortana.\nAbout Stone Temple \nIn case you\u2019re wondering, Stone Temple is a well-regarded digital marketing and SEO firm. The company often conducts useful research studies, and its blog is a must-read for digital marketers.\nWhat does it all mean?\nThe research could be most helpful to those weighing Amazon Echo vs. Google Home, either for home or work. If you want the best chance of getting a useful piece of information from your smart speaker, Google Home is the better option.\nNonetheless, I prefer Amazon Echo devices\u2014which are built into an increasing variety of hardware products from Amazon as well as others. For example, I had lots of headaches setting up Google Home on my home Wi-Fi network\u2014so many that I took the device back to Best Buy, where I purchased it. Echo devices, on the other hand, have worked mostly without a hitch.