back to article NO XMAS PRESENTS FOR Google Now and Siri: Chirpy scamps get a C+

A series of tests on the effectiveness of iOS and Android's voice-controlled search apps shows that Google Now is catching up on Apple's Siri software, but still has some way to go in beating its Cupertinian competitor. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster asked the two personal-assistant programs 800 questions apiece – half …


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  1. jubtastic1

    I use Siri all the time

    But there's no denying its way slower than Google now, and if it's improved in any sense since I bought the phone I'm not sure where or how. It's hard to tell if it's in maintenance mode or they're struggling to add features but that twitter firehose company acquisition suggests the latter.

    1. SuccessCase

      Re: I use Siri all the time

      Yes improving speed should be their No.1 priority. General as this article notes I've noticed accuracy has improved. The main areas of improvement since launch is in the ability to launch apps and control OS features and settings. Another big improvement that is actually pretty cool tech-wise involves the way Apple have adapted Multipath-TCP to ensure Siri maintains a connection even when you are passing into or out of WiFi hotspots (which may grab your WiFi with a login screen). I became aware of this improvement because the time I use Siri most is if I am running late, when I leave my apartment I exit out of my WiFi range, then cross back into it as I walk past the front of the Apartment, but with weak signal so the connection often doesn't work properly, then leave it again. This sequence used to destroy any Siri requests so my "Hi X I'm running late" or "Hi X meet you at 7:00pm" type messages would fail. Now they succeed, which when you understand the problem and the process gone through to get around it, that the solution works so well is quite impressive. This same connection robustness ensures connections are maintained for other over-IP services like FaceTime.

      Having said all that, it still remains that I only use Siri limited to pretty much the following cases 1) requesting preferred tracks are played (but only if I'm not in company, I still feel too self conscious making such requests in a crowded place) 2) To set timers when cooking 3) To send "running late" style messages 4) To listen to received text messages and voice messages when on the move (saying "read me that text message" works pretty well). I know it can do a lot more, but I think the problem is, with a voice interface, since you can't "see" new features, you tend to establish a pattern of use and then find yourself sticking with it.

  2. DrXym Silver badge

    Now try these same tests outside of the US

    I bet both services take a nose dive both in terms of speech recognition and in the usefulness of the results they return.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Now try these same tests outside of the US

      Actually, Google's speech recognition does seem leaps and bounds ahead of Siri, when it comes to understanding anything not spoken in posh American. Copes with a thick Lanky Twang surprisingly well. Siri, not so much.

      "Goggle, whur's t'chippeh? I wants a babbi's 'ed fer tea. That last black pud was 'arder than an 'alf knacker an' left me feelin' all sorts o' wrong."

      Okay, so maybe it couldn't cope with that too well, but it's pretty good nonetheless.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Now try these same tests outside of the US

        After the last search update I'm finding Google no longer recognises my English accent often enough for even simple requests. 'Wake me at"+time used to be reliable, now it hasn't once recognised the spoken time and misses the 'wake' part >50% of the time.

        Perhaps not surprising, it struggles to even start on my 4.2.1+underpowered Xperia Play combo. But it worked a month ago on the same phone, seems to be going backwards ;(

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Used both, Google WAY better.

    speech recognition is more reliable, especially in noisy or echoy environments (in my conservatory, Siri NEVER works, Google gets it pretty much every time).

    Google's results are more consistent, more usfull most importantly, understands context from the previous search..

    I would rate Siri 5/10 and Google 8/10

    So I find the outcome of this report a little odd...

    1. Darryl

      Re: Used both, Google WAY better.

      Whenever you see "Gene Munster" in a comparison between an Apple product and a competing product, you can safely deduct one point from the Apple score and add one point to the competitor's to get you a much more real-world score.

      Gene's known to be quite Apple-centric.

  4. Andrew Jones 2

    Now for a party trick....

    Pick up a nexus 4 (or other Android device) and ask a question like "what time is it in Paris"

    after you get an answer, pick up another device (like the Nexus 7) and ask "what about New York" - Google will correct your search to "what time is it in New York". Then pick up a laptop and visit the Google search page, click the Microphone and ask "what's the weather like" which Google will correct to "What is the weather in New York". Cross device, contextually relevant conversational search.

    Yes it seems like a gimmick - but it essentially means your phone is aware of your current search process that have you just been doing on your laptop / work computer.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      That sounds like a party trick alright.

      Google gathering and storing information like that is both very useful and a privacy problem - but it's not really feasible to do it any other way.

      Has anybody tried a similar test with Siri?

    2. AceRimmer

      Another party trick is to use the Nickname function on contacts.

      Set a friends contact nickname to "Dinosaur Breath" (Or other insult of your choice)

      Then show them how clever Google is by asking it to "call Dinosaur Breath"

    3. User McUser
      Black Helicopters

      I'll presume that you've already logged in on all these devices ahead of time... Unless the NSA is handling all the Google Now queries.

  5. Stretch

    Cheese mints

    ask Google Now about "achievements". It insists these are Cheese Mints.

    1. wikkity

      Re: Cheese mints

      Never came across cheese mints before, just asked google now where I can buy some and now ordered some :-)

  6. Trooper_ID

    yes that is because Google spies on everything you , and devices you have used, and IPs that you have used, does. And you are worried about the NSA?

    1. AceRimmer

      Google won't use that information against you in a court of law

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Of course the NSA won't either. Most targets are not subject to US jurisdiction at all and essentially all of what NSA collects would be clearly inadmissible in a US court.

        I'm not endorsing what NSA does, and agree fully that the information it collects could be misused, but it is worthwhile to keep a sense of proportion and context. I suspect most people are more threatened, in fact, by the policeman in the patrol car just behind them who just ran their plate for warrants and violations.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      With Google you have a choice, the NSA not so much.

  7. heyrick Silver badge

    Siri FAIL

    IPad Mini, WiFi only. The Google apps have picked up my location from a random WiFi AP I passed the other day. It isn't me, but it is close enough.

    All Siri can tell me is "I don't know where you are". It doesn't seem to understand "I am at home" or similar ( it knows my home address).

    I submitted my AP to the public database around three months ago. Still not recognised by the iPad. So on this, and the apparent inability of bring able to add location information to Apple's database, I'd rank Siri (and iOS) a mere 2/10.

    BTW, don't suggest I invite a friend with an iPhone to visit. This appears to be how the database is updated, but I know nobody with an iPhone...

  8. jason 7

    I have founds voice recognition works much better...

    ...if you speak to it just like the voice it uses.

    Use the slightly broken up cadence, middle england, speaking clock type voice and it works far better.

    Okay you then tend to sound like Peter Serafinowicz doing a voice over but.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have founds voice recognition works much better...

      Many hours of fun can be had getting your foreign friends to try and get it to understand them (Swedish, Polish etc.) :D

      The nickname trick is very handy for shortcuts or for names whose pronunciation doesn't match the spelling.

  9. Sheep!

    Given that (in Google's case at least and I'm pretty sure it will be the same for Apple) the engine learns from every voice command it receives, I'm not surprised to see that Google is progressing faster that Siri simply because they have a much larger installed user-base and therefore are getting a higher volume of requests to actually learn from.

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