digital assistant

Part of the Personal computing glossary:

A digital assistant is an application program that can understand natural language and complete electronic tasks for the end user. 

Such tasks, which might have been performed by a personal assistant or secretary in previous decades, include taking dictation, sending messages, looking up phone numbers, placing calls and reminding the end user about appointments. A digital assistant is programmed with artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology. This allows the end user to talk conversationally with the digital assistant, especially if the AI programming includes personality and chit chat. 

As the end user interacts with his digital assistant, the programming gets access to more data. This can help the digital assistant become better at predicting the end users needs and seem smarter. Popular digital assistants currently include Apple's Siri, Google Now and Cortana, the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1.

A digital assistant may also be called an intelligent assistant or a virtual assistant.  (Note: A virtual assistant may also be a human administrative assistant who works remotely.) 


This was last updated in April 2014
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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