Siri may be the hottest digital personal assistant on the block, but she's not the first voice-activated mobile system to translate our mumbled commands into actions. The iPhone had its own voice search before, and Google Voice is still prominently featured on Android. More often than not it even gets its own dedicated button. But is Siri the breakthrough implementation of the technology we've been waiting for? Is she going to crush Google Voice Search under an Apple-shaped heel?
Not exactly. Siri's natural language recognition gives it a leg up, but Google's hardly out of the picture. After all, Siri runs queries through Google search when it doesn't know how to take immediate action--and sometimes Google's own Voice Search comes back with better results.
Google's Voice Actions for Android send voice commands to the cloud where they're processed and returned back to your phone. Despite the fact that Siri aims to perform basic phone tasks like setting appointments and sending texts, it performs its voice analysis the same way. If you're running a search or setting an alarm, Siri still has to upload your voice data to a remote server for parsing. 3G or Wi-Fi are required for both services.
SearchEngineLand ran a comparison between Siri and Google Voice Search to see which was the better digital butler. Siri has some advantages unique to the iPhone: proper notetaking, setting calendar events and alarms, and grabbing factual answers from Wolfram Alpha.
Apple's natural language processing makes issuing commands to Siri more conversational, while Google Voice Actions pick out keywords to carry out requests. And Siri talks back. But as SEL discovered, Google often performed just as well or better when it came to searches--Google Places pages were more informative than Siri's Yelp results for restaurants.
One other advantage Android's voice implementation has over Siri: Google Translate. Its use is more limited than the day-to-day of making appointments and reminders in Siri, but we hope it's one Google continues to expand upon in the future.
As expected, Google does a good job when it comes to search and holds its own against the newer Siri. Apple took voice commands to the next level with deeper hardware and software integration, and natural language recognition is an incredible technology that's only going to get more powerful as it grows in sophistication.