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Sorry, Siri: How Google Is Planning to Be Your New Personal Assistant (theatlantic.com)
25 points by dctoedt 1423 days ago | hide | past | web | 15 comments | favorite

I think we're all going to look back at the launch buzz over Siri and wonder what we were thinking (if we don't already). Obviously there is plenty of time for Apple to improve it, but Google Now really beats Siri on every meaningful level. Now that it corrals so much predictive data, having to speak to Siri to get it to do something seems like stone-age era stuff.

Have Apple added much to Siri since it launched? Certainly, I don't remember any big banner features.

The problem with Apple is that updates are usually pushed out yearly (with each iOS introduction). With Siri the only new developments/exceptions that have been announced are new language compatibility and minor capability improvements (reservations, ticket buying...).

Now, ┬┐Does that mean that Siri hasn't evolved at all? Not necessarily. Server-side it might have become more reliable or accurate without Apple promoting it, for example.

Personally I use Siri as a shortcut for some functions that otherwise will require to many taps or navigation. Every day I set up my next day alarm with it "Wake me up at..." and sometimes I set up appointments using it. I might ask her to read me some message if I'm running, too. Some of those things Google Now / Android does not offer in it's current state.

I've never had any reliability problems so for me the service has not improved. Maybe users with thicker accents or that had trouble at the beginning would be able to tell otherwise. This has been the case, for me, with iOS Maps. Not new big banner features since introduction but constant improvements without publicity.

On a side note, another two cents: Siri's buzz didn't have to do with the product itself but with the glimpses of the future it offered. It carried the message that sooner or later our way of interacting with things will be a mix of gestures and voice.

It faced the same problems other speech recognition systems and virtual agents had in the past (including pre-Apple Siri) but the fact that a company that caters to the mass market was ready to give it a push probably caused a significant shift and raised awareness to this technology. Certainly has become a well known feature even by common, non-techie users. My mom or my grandmother knows about it, even if they don't use it. That is a huge step forward, in my opinion. Theres always time to refine and improve.

I think Siri was good when it launched and people were right to be excited about it but Apple have done very little with it over the last 18 months. It's still technically a beta too. Another problem is a lot of the features are limited to the US or a few other countries. Siri had the potential to be Google Now but Apple never bothered.

This is the thing I never understood. Siri owned the experience, and still the biggest data partner was Google which got to reap 18 months of 'click data' on Siri queries for "free."

The fact that Apple doesn't have a web search engine boggles my mind, they only need look at how Google and Microsoft exploit the Web corpus to create really compelling user experiences to know that its rapidly going to become the differentiating factor between integrated product offerings.

Weird. I just downloaded the iOS app and it is useless to me. It has a Weather card which is terribly inaccurate and nothing else.

So there is one area that Siri definitely beats Google Now and that is usability from day one. It is an important criteria for a mobile app.

The most important differentiator between Google Now and Siri is that one is visual and text based whereas the other is only voice activated.

I do not speak English in an American, British or an Australian accent and I disabled Siri on my iPhone in less than a week after I bought it.

This alone expands Google Now's market by a significant number.

Google search for Andoird/iOS or in a browser also has voice input option and I must say it's pretty good at understanding your accent. You should try it!

Google Now and Siri are fundamentally different types of applications, one is not a substitute for the other (at least currently). I see stories like this all the time setting them up against each other, and they always read like Apple vs. Google clickbait rather than anyone actually comparing the use cases or feature sets.

It reminds me of this really lame ongoing narrative that the tech press had 10 years ago, about Bluetooth vs. WiFi and which technology was going to, uh, "win". Aside from being based on pushing bits through RF, they were completely disjoint technologies that solved different problems, but a bunch of tech pundits kept writing articles about how there was some battle for the future of wireless communications and one of them was going to destroy the other.

I wonder if the author actually tried Google Now before writing the story, or whether this was solely based on press releases, videos, and other comments elsewhere? Maybe I missed it but I don't really see it here where the author says, "I tried it and I had this or that opinion".

Running Google Now on my iPhone runs counter to my strategy of getting Google further out of my life. I have no interest in getting further enmeshed into their services.

Obviously no one has tried the Google app (iOS at least). It is the most disorganized and slapped together application in the history of iOS.

I'm still wondering how the hell anyone could seriously consider releasing this abomination.

Until Google decides to join the iOS infrastructure (like reading from your Contacts - radical I know) none of it's apps will provide even the slightest interesting interactions.

find two iPhones

start voice listening on both (one Siri, one Google app) at the same time

start talking

see the difference

How about letting us know the results of said experiment or recording a video? Your comment, as it stands, is waste for those of us who do not already know the result.

EDIT: Thanks for the video. Summary, Google's voice search is the same speed or faster than Siri for all queries tried with the results being nearly identical in all cases.

EDIT 2: Here is an updated video[1] from the same person six months after yours, but still six months ago, wherein the difference is less clear if not in Siri's favor.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3T6rbGwrF8

For those of us who don't have two iPhones, mind sharing what you think the difference would be?

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