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Siri Vs. Google Voice Search

Clark Goble has posted an excellent review of Siri and Google Voice Search, taking into account the improvements Apple and Google made to their services in the past few weeks. His experience largely reflects mine: Siri is more useful to do stuff, Google is faster at transcribing dictated input and displaying search results.

That said Siri still has places it needs to improve. It really should speak far more results. For certain classes of queries Siri should display a large simple result and speak it rather than the stylized Wolfram result it now provides. Given that Siri already has started speaking more results, I suspect we’ll see that added over the next month. Siri also has a problem of not letting you speak over it. I’d like it to be able to let me answer before I have to listen to every part of the question she’s asking. Finally I think there are several types of queries Siri needs to be optimized for. Temperature conversions, forthcoming movie releases, television schedules, and time series sporting event statistics really are all things Siri needs to do better.

In October, I wrote:

Google Search for iOS doesn’t want to be Siri: after all, it can’t. It has some similar features (“Do I need a raincoat today?”), but it’s not an assistant. It couldn’t be per Apple’s restrictions, and Google isn’t even trying to posit it as a Siri replacement. It’s Voice Search.

I also agree with Clark in regards to the tests many people conduct to compare Siri to Google. I’m not interested in the funny and witty responses – for as much as they’re an entertaining demo – because, after all, I want to know how voice works in real life. I’m always around a computer or iOS device, and the only times when I can’t directly manipulate a UI with my hands is when I’m driving or cooking. I want to know how Siri compares to Google in letting me complete tasks such as converting pounds to grams and texting my girlfriend, not showing me pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

As an Italian user, I have to say Siri has still a long way to go with a language that’s full of variables such as conjugations and pronouns. Some Italian responses are poorly worded (see screenshot above), and sentences containing a “that” are still plainly transcribed. Sports results for Serie A lack player pictures and coach information, and results for the last match are displayed instead of rankings. Siri asks me if I mean “November 19th” or “November 20th” when I ask for “tomorrow” minutes after the midnight of November 19th, but simply replying “the 19th” doesn’t work.

Italian Siri has also been getting better, though. It presents more results for businesses open at night in my area if I ask after 11 PM, and it appears to accept a more variegate vocabulary for Reminders and Calendar integration. I can also attest reliability has improved recently, but it’s still far from perfect.

If you want a balanced and detailed take on the differences between Siri and Google, read Clark’s review here.