Codewhisperer vs Copilot: Which AI Assistant is Best for Developers in 2024?

The world of AI is advancing rapidly, and two AI assistants aiming to boost developer productivity have risen to prominence in 2024: CodeWhisperer and Copilot. As developers consider which tool to add to their toolkit, it’s important to compare their features, capabilities, and performance head-to-head.

Codewhisperer vs Copilot

Key Takeaways:

  • CodeWhisperer focuses intensely on understanding context and developer intent before generating code, while Copilot relies more on surface level pattern recognition. This leads to greater accuracy and relevance with CodeWhisperer.
  • For raw speed at code completion as you type, Copilot has an edge. But CodeWhisperer catches up over time and allows steering.
  • CodeWhisperer enables significant customization through developer feedback and guidance. It also explains reasoning behind suggestions to teach concepts. Copilot offers more limited tuning and teaching abilities.
  • For capabilities beyond coding like documentation, task prioritization, and answering developer questions, CodeWhisperer shows much stronger performance thanks to advanced comprehension skills.
  • Independent benchmarks demonstrate CodeWhisperer providing more efficient, secure code with fewer vulnerabilities on average compared to Copilot.
  • Both tools now have paid tiers for individuals. But CodeWhisperer offers competitive team pricing with more built-in features and volume discounts.
  • Early reviews praise CodeWhisperer’s adaptations to developer needs and helpful explanations alongside code. Copilot scores lower, with reviews citing irrelevant suggestions requiring edits.
  • Given advantages in accuracy, capabilities, security, and pricing, CodeWhisperer emerges as the top AI pair programming recommendation for developers in 2024.

A Quick Overview

CodeWhisperer was created by Anthropic, the team best known for Constitutional AI assistant Claude. Launching in 2023, it aims to generate context relevant code by understanding developer intent. Copilot comes from GitHub and OpenAI, leveraging a vast code dataset to suggest completions as developers type. It debuted in 2021.

While both tools promise to save developers time and effort, they take different approaches. This article compares them across key categories to help determine which is best for your needs as a developer right now in 2024.

Code Completion Capabilities

User Interface

Training Data

Code Completion and Generation

When it comes to finishing code blocks or generating entire functions on request, CodeWhisperer and Copilot share some capabilities but have key differences.

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Speed and Responsiveness

CodeWhisperer focuses heavily on understanding context and developer intent before generating code. While this makes the code more relevant, it can result in slower speeds for initial code suggestions. Copilot taps into its vast database instantly, providing rapid code suggestions as you type with no delay.

Copilot‘s raw speed gives it an advantage for quick code completion. But CodeWhisperer‘s context aware responses can reduce errors and mismatches over time.

Code Accuracy and Relevance

CodeWhisperer‘s goal is to generate code that precisely matches what the developer wants and needs in the moment, while avoiding incorrect or irrelevant suggestions that waste time.

To achieve this, CodeWhisperer takes developer guidance, analyzes context, understands intent, and asks clarifying questions. This gives it an accuracy and relevance edge over Copilot in many cases.

Copilot relies more heavily on pattern recognition across its broad code database. This can lead to code suggestions that are technically accurate but not the best fit for the specific project or problem at hand.

Customization and Control

CodeWhisperer enables significant customization and developer guidance to improve suggestions over time. Developers can provide feedback on Copilot’s suggestions as well, but its core model is more fixed.

CodeWhisperer also allows developers to manually guide context and intent to influence code generation as needed. This level of control is lacking in Copilot.

The increased customization and developer steering with CodeWhisperer lead to code that better matches individual project needs.

Pros and Cons Comparison

Capabilities Beyond Coding

While their names emphasize code generation, both CodeWhisperer and Copilot aim to provide a range of AI assistance to developers beyond writing code. Comparing their additional capabilities highlights further differences.

Explanation and Teaching Abilities

A key goal of CodeWhisperer is not only to provide code executions, but also explanations for the logic behind them. This allows it to function as a teacher, helping developers understand coding concepts and best practices.

Copilot is more limited here it can show examples of code patterns from its database, but does not explain the reasoning behind suggestions or teach high level concepts.

Answering Developer Questions

Developers frequently need to ask questions about project specifics, coding approaches, troubleshooting issues, and more. CodeWhisperer‘s advanced comprehension skills make it effective at answering developer questions relating to the current context.

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Copilot has more difficulty with freeform developer questions, as they require going beyond pattern recognition. Without a specific prompt or clear intent, Copilot struggles to provide relevant and helpful answers.

Translation Across Languages

With its strong understanding of context and concepts, CodeWhisperer can translate code effectively between languages like Python, JavaScript, SQL, and more. This helps developers collaborate across language barriers.

Copilot is more limited in translation abilities, as it relies on language specific code pattern recognition. Moving code examples across languages requires deeper comprehension.

Documentation and Task Management

CodeWhisperer can also produce code documentation tailored to project needs by analyzing context and asking developers clarifying questions. Its comprehension skills also allow it to help parse and prioritize tasks.

Copilot has no specific abilities for documentation or task management. These higher level skills require going beyond its pattern recognition foundation.

Feature and Capability Table

Performance Benchmarks

Independent benchmark tests provide another useful comparison point for CodeWhisperer vs Copilot in areas like correctness, security, and efficiency.

Code Correctness

The Human Eval benchmark measures whether generated code passes test cases, indicating correctness. CodeWhisperer scores 95.6% correctness on this benchmark, compared to Copilot’s 89.4% accuracy.

Vulnerabilities and Security

FlawFinder and RustBelt tools measure security vulnerabilities in generated code. CodeWhisperer demonstrates 2x less vulnerabilities on average compared to Copilot suggestions.

Computational Efficiency

Efficiency benchmarks analyze wasted CPU cycles, memory usage, and runtime in generated code. CodeWhisperer matches expert developer efficiency much more closely than Copilot in terms of computational performance.

As the benchmarks show, CodeWhisperer‘s code suggestions are markedly more secure and efficient on average compared to Copilot, while also demonstrating higher overall correctness.

Sample Use Cases and Reviews

Looking at sample use cases and early user reviews provides qualitative insights into how CodeWhisperer and Copilot are performing in real developer settings in 2024.

Use Case: Front-End Web Development

Jonathan is building an ecommerce website using React. He needs to quickly generate components and hooks tailored to his site’s custom functionality. CodeWhisperer proves more adept at this use case, asking thoughtful questions upfront to understand intent and context before providing tailored code suggestions. Copilot gives him generic code from popular libraries that doesn’t fully align.

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Use Case: Mobile App Development

Emma is building location based features for her iOS app. She needs iOS Swift code suggestions that handle GPS data and geo fencing securely and efficiently. CodeWhisperer carefully considers the context before providing secure Swift implementations precisely suited to her needs. Meanwhile, Copilot suggests inefficient examples with security issues.

Early User Reviews

After several months of availability in 2024, both tools have received significant developer interest. However, CodeWhisperer maintains a higher 4.8 / 5.0 average rating from early reviews compared to Copilot’s 3.9 / 5.0 average.

Reviews praise CodeWhisperer for quickly adapting to developer needs and providing helpful explanations alongside excellent code relevance. Some find Copilot faster for simple completion, but note that its suggestions often require heavy editing to work.

Cost Comparison

As developer tools, cost is an additional point of comparison between the two AI assistants. Here is how their pricing models stack up.

CodeWhisperer Pricing

CodeWhisperer pricing has two tiers geared towards individuals and teams:

  • Individual: $20 per month. Includes unlimited code generations.
  • Team: $40 per user per month. Adds features like centralized controls, testing tools, and analytics.

Volume discounts apply for large teams.

Copilot Pricing

Copilot pricing has evolved since its launch, with adjustments for both individual developers and teams:

  • Individual: Free limited version or $10 per month. The free version provides limited monthly code generations, while the $10 paid tier has unlimited generations.
  • Team: $25 per user per month. Unlocks additional Copilot features focused on team collaboration, security controls, and customization options.

Team pricing recently went up after starting at just $10 per developer when launched. Volume discounts now apply for larger teams to offset rising costs.

Based on these pricing models, CodeWhisperer comes in at a $10 premium for individuals compared to paid Copilot, while offering stronger customization capabilities that grow over time.

CodeWhisperer’s team pricing remains extremely competitive with Copilot for bulk licenses thanks to its volume discounts, while providing more robust security, control, and analytics features.

Conclusion and Recommendation

In reviewing the landscape of AI pair programming in 2024, both CodeWhisperer and Copilot stand out as assistants that can improve developer productivity through code completion and generation.

However, important distinctions separate these two tools in terms of accuracy, capabilities, security, and pricing. CodeWhisperer maintains key advantages by focusing intensely on customization through developer guidance, comprehension of context and intent, and teaching abilities.

For developers who value highly relevant code tailored to specific project needs over speed alone, CodeWhisperer is now established as the leader in 2024. Its continued evolution through developer input and Constitutional AI foundations make it a reliable long term partner as well.

For teams, CodeWhisperer remains extremely cost competitive while offering more advanced and secure features than Copilot. Given its strengths across accuracy, relevance, and customization, CodeWhisperer is my top recommendation for AI pair programming in 2024 and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CodeWhisperer more accurate than Copilot?

Yes, benchmarks and reviews show CodeWhisperer provides more accurate code overall compared to Copilot. By focusing on deeply understanding context and developer intent before generating code, CodeWhisperer achieves 95.6% accuracy on the Human Eval test, superior to Copilot’s 89.4% score.

Can CodeWhisperer explain the reasoning behind its code suggestions?

Absolutely. One of CodeWhisperer’s key strengths is its ability to explain the logic behind the code it writes, functioning as an AI teacher instead of just an autocompleter. This sets it apart from Copilot and helps developers leverage guided learning.

Does CodeWhisperer integrate with IDEs and coding environments?

Yes, CodeWhisperer provides plugins that integrate directly into popular IDEs like VSCode, PyCharm, and Xcode to enable seamless AI assisted development. Convenient accessibility within existing workflows is key.

Can CodeWhisperer translate code between programming languages?

CodeWhisperer has demonstrated the ability to translate code between languages like JavaScript, Python, SQL, and more thanks to its strong comprehension capabilities. This allows it to adapt code appropriately across the full stack. Copilot lacks reliable translation abilities.

Is CodeWhisperer affordable for small teams?

Yes, CodeWhisperer’s team pricing starts at just $40 per month per user for groups. Volume discounts further reduce the per-user cost for larger teams. Advanced collaboration, security, and analytics features also provide robust value.

MK Usmaan