Earlier this week, Google finally the Google Assistant on the iphone. For the first time, Apple fanboys can make use of Google’s AI to perform a lot of tricks, but much more importantly, it means we can finally have a Google Assistant Siri vs showdown.
This is not a fair fight in several ways: Google does AI much longer, and has more dates than mine; but Siri is the built-in AI, which gives her access to much more of the iPhone features. But despite the blatant Apple preference for Siri, Google Assistant can still pull a lot of tricks that Siri can only dream of.
The first feature you probably notice is that you can ask to Google Assistant. If you, like me, you’d never be seen dead talking to your phone in public, this is a real game-changing feature. This allows you to use all the smarts of Google without having to say the words in public and everyone around you the rate of your movie of your choice.
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Written questions get treated exactly the same as the things spoken: you can write in natural speech, so things like “set an alarm for 7”, or “what is the weather like today” works fine.
One of Google’s useful features is that it remembers where you were talking about. For example, you can ask: “Who directed Batman begins” and then immediately follow up with “show me a picture of him,” and it will show footage of Christopher Nolan. It goes a long way in the direction of the create of the Google Assistant feel like a real person, not a kind of information-the retrieval of bone or an improved version of Google.
Google will even suggest many of these follow-up functions. After I had asked about Christopher Nolan, a large number of instructions as “Images” and “Movies”, which you can tap to get more info. It feels like the information of the cards that Google displays when you do a search on the internet, but is easier to access.
You can ask Google “What is the status of Delta flight 361 to Atlanta,” and it will give you information directly within the app, without kicking you to the web page. Siri’s not even close — as with many things, if you ask for a flight status, just do a search on the web and give you the top pages. Even if Google can’t exactly flight information, it still gives useful info. For example, I’ve tried it with the question: “What is the status of the Delta flight from Charlotte to Wilmington,” it sent me to a web page for the Wilmington airport, with an Airline:Delta Origin:Charlotte is already filled.
Google has opened the Assistant, the natural-language-processing to a bunch of third parties. One of the better is Genius, the music, the recognition and the recommendation of the database. Ask the Assistant “I would like to talk to Genie, and you get a new conversation specifically with the Genius-bot. From there you can see a few of the texts, and it will tell you what song you’re listening to it and information about it.
In many ways, I actually prefer it to Shazam or other services that listen to a sound clip. Very often I am in a bar where a music recognition service is not working, but I can from fragments of texts. The types of law in the Assistant is a little easier than doing a search in Google, and gives better results.
This is a bit unfair, because both Google Assistant and Siri have a shopping list function. But Google is much faster and slicker to use, and syncs with a special Shopping List that is linked to your Google account, and you can easily manage multiple devices.
Way more importantly, though, Google Assistant will not only keep the shopping list as a different list. When you browse to the list in the Home app (or ask the Google Assistant “shopping list”), you have the option to shop in your list by using Google Express. You can view the list, scroll options item, and then checkout, all without leaving the app, or really feel as if you’re doing something.
Where Siri still wins
There is one big downside to all of this, though: Google Assistant will ask you to open an app before you can use it. Siri can be activated by your voice or by pressing the home button for a few seconds the process every time you use it. Sure, the Google voice recognition is much better, and it syncs with your Google accounts, but that doesn’t really matter if you don’t use it. While Siri remains the only option for the native voice assistant on the iPhone — and I don’t see Apple changing that quickly — the Assistant is still going to be second best.