How Chatbots Differ from Virtual Assistants?

With both chatbots and virtual assistants flooding the market, there is a lot of ambiguity around both the technologies. Though these technologies are easily available and may seem similar, there are a lot of differences in chatbots and virtual assistants. While chatbots are mostly business-oriented, virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri are user-oriented.

However, both chatbots and virtual assistants are programmed to carry out specific tasks but in a different manner. Let’s see what makes chatbots and virtual assistants different.

Difference in Chatbots And Virtual Assistants

1.  Intelligence

Chatbots are programmed mostly to interact over text, which is also limited. You cannot expect a chatbot to keep interacting for too long; they will fail when unexpected questions turn up. If a user asks a question a chatbot is not designed to answer, or the question is not in learned responses, the chatbot may not be able to respond. It is more like FAQs.

For instance, where is my food and how much time will it take.

Chatbots may be able to answer only these type of questions effectively.

Virtual assistants are more sophisticated. Think of Alexa or Siri! These assistants have the ability to understand what the user is saying or what is the actual meaning behind it. In fact, virtual assistants can learn from previous instances, which makes them different from chatbots.

While you can’t expect chatbots to carry out complicated tasks, virtual assistants can be programmed to do it.

2. Functions

Earlier, chatbots could only perform basic tasks such as changing the password or telling the status of an order. Virtual assistants, on the other hand, were more flexible and advanced in working.

Now, advancements in machine learning and NLP has led to progress in both chatbots and virtual assistants. The chatbots can be more intuitive and useful.

The reason behind adding this point in differences is that the difference still prevails. Although we have some instances of chatbots that are very advanced, most businesses use the ones with basic functionalities.

For instance, after ordering food, many food-delivery apps allow users to ask basic questions through chatbots. However, for high-level support, you may need to talk to an executive.

3. Language Processing

Chatbots are highly mainstream when it comes to language processing. You cannot expect a chatbot to respond to complex questions it is not programmed to answer originally. Chatbots, further, don’t learn from instances. Hence, if users ask specific questions, the chatbot may respond with a specified answer. When the context of question changes or becomes complex, chatbot will not answer it as it won’t have an answer for it.

Conversely, virtual assistants have natural language processing skills. Hence, virtual assistants can understand and infer what the user is trying to convey in an enhanced manner. The technology behind virtual assistants also let them stay involved in a conversation for a longer duration.

4. Technology

Chatbots use selective and generative models. When a user asks a question, the generator ranking model is used to analyze various layers of information to come up with the best possible response. The selective model ranks user information according to its own memory information and answers with the best response.

Virtual assistants are made with neural networks, which means these systems can learn from instances. These systems can evaluate, classify, analyze, and predict data. In short, you can give virtual assistant the ability to learn from experiences, which is not there in chatbots.


Chatbots and the virtual assistant may seem like technologies that are cut from the same cloth, but these are actually not. Chatbots are more basic, easily available yet highly useful and virtual assistants are more advanced and better for performing complex functions.