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Google takes on Siri by adding voice search to standalone iOS app

post #1 of 27
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Google on Tuesday rolled out a software update to its standalone iOS search app, offering advanced voice-recognition technology that mimics Siri in function, but taps into the internet search giant's vast data banks instead of the assets accessed by Apple's virtual assistant.

Google Search


In a post to its official blog, Google announced that its "most advanced voice search" has arrived on iOS, bringing with it access to the entirety of the company's online search assets and tools.



In a quick test, AppleInsider found the app to be quite responsive, and while lacking the system-wide functionality of Siri, does provide for more comprehensive and accurate internet-based search results compared to Apple's solution.

Unlike previous versions of the software, the new Google search app recites answers, however it does not carry on a "conversation" as does Siri. The addition is notable, however, as it brings a more interactive feel to the software, as well as offering a "eyes-free" option to querying Google's database.

The new Google search voice feature is speedy, translating commands in near real-time and presenting corresponding information with relative accuracy. Powering the system is Google's Knowledge Graph, the augmentation to the company's search engine that intelligently connects searches with their meaning. According to Google, Knowledge Graph "understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings."

Apple Store Search


In a side-by-side comparison, both Siri and Google's new voice search performed similarly when queried about the location of the nearest Apple Store, however Apple's software couldn't give the answer to more specific questions like city populations.

Population Search


As was expected, Siri trumped Google's implementation when searching for movies, weather and sports, mostly due to developers that took advantage of Apple's API.

Movie Search


While Google's new voice-recognizing search feature does improve on Siri's functionality in some areas, Apple's solution will always be more useful for iOS device owners, as Siri can not only perform searches, but can control systems functions like composing messages, setting alarms, and other low-level operations. Apple has promised that Siri will become increasingly integrated into iOS, though it remains to be seen when the virtual assistant will be able to perform higher-function tasks like turning Bluetooth on and off.
post #2 of 27

It's nice to see the translation occurring in real-time, but it cuts off too fast. So, you better have your entire question fully formulated or you'll not get a complete query.

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post #3 of 27

It does a pretty good job, but it is limited to search…  You cannot command it to: text someone; call someone; make an appointment; check your schedule; play a song; launch an app; dictate text content, search a map...

 

Just ask it questions... but, it is very fast, and seemed a little less accurate than Siri (in the few minutes I played with it).

 

I didn't allow it to use my location, but it was able to figure out (reasonably accurately) where I was from my IP address (home WiFi). I wonder if it could do that with cell tower locations when away from home?

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"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
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post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

It's nice to see the translation occurring in real-time, but it cuts off too fast. So, you better have your entire question fully formulated or you'll not get a complete query.

agree with this. it's great to see the translation, but my enunciation must stink because both google search and siri seem to have equal amounts of difficulty with my voice. i've been playing with both for a couple hours, posing easy queries such as "when is thanksgiving", moderately difficult queries such as "map of drum street road 12937" (yes, it's a real road name), and difficult queries such as "when is the next full moon which falls on february 26th" ... and they both mostly fail.

most irritating to me is that they both fail on "directions from xxx to xxx" ... most of the time they both interpret "to" as "2" and tack on a 2 in front of the "to" address.

nice to see the competition but lotsa work to be done.
post #5 of 27
I'm not sure that a Humpback whale particularly good choice of mammal.
post #6 of 27
as Siri can not only perform searches, but can control systems functions like composing messages, setting alarms, and other low-level operations....


I got a iPhone4s earlier this year. Interested in Siri, but ultimately turned it off within a week or so. I managed to get it to set a reminder, once. Most of the remainder I spend my time repeating the same words over and over and over...

The google option on youtube/chrome apps seems to work ok for my accent, it will be interesting to see how this app goes.
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post #7 of 27
I'm as huge an apple fan as the next- but man this google voice recognition is friggin impressive- one can only hope that Siri evolves to this level of functionality.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post


agree with this. it's great to see the translation, but my enunciation must stink because both google search and siri seem to have equal amounts of difficulty with my voice. i've been playing with both for a couple hours, posing easy queries such as "when is thanksgiving", moderately difficult queries such as "map of drum street road 12937" (yes, it's a real road name), and difficult queries such as "when is the next full moon which falls on february 26th" ... and they both mostly fail.
most irritating to me is that they both fail on "directions from xxx to xxx" ... most of the time they both interpret "to" as "2" and tack on a 2 in front of the "to" address.
nice to see the competition but lotsa work to be done.

 

You may be a small subset of people who pronounce "2" and "to" the same. Test it out, you probably pronounce "too" the same as well. 

 

The numeral "2" is pronounced with a longer ending while the pitch of the tail end slightly rolls off. "To," on the other hand has a sharp ending with no pitch variation. 

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Jobs View Post

I'm as huge an apple fan as the next- but man this google voice recognition is friggin impressive- one can only hope that Siri evolves to this level of functionality.

 

Check it out: Ask Siri to ask Google to search the web... piece of cake!

post #10 of 27
Apple is never going to surpass Google in the search domain on their own.
post #11 of 27

Ok, I'm impressed, just played around with it.  That is fucking fast. Like instantaneous. The realtime transcription is insane. 

post #12 of 27
Siri can show a city's population just fine. I suppose Cape Cod is too small of a city to show, based on the database it uses.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

 

Check it out: Ask Siri to ask Google to search the web... piece of cake!

The point of Siri is that she's meant to know what tools to use to answer your query.

 

She should look up Google automatically if that's going to provide the answer to my question. Not ask me if I want to perform a search.

post #14 of 27
Here come the "I'm a hugh fan of Apple, but..." posts.

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Here come the "I'm a hugh fan of Apple, but..." posts.

 

Who's Hugh?

 

(btw - you beat me to it.)

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post #16 of 27
I'm a huge fan of Apple but... I'm not a fanboy...
post #17 of 27

Maybe they are too busy right now...

 

700

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post #18 of 27
This is certainly faster than Siri, mainly for the fact that it relies on Google's liquid fast search engine. It's also pretty good (but not flawless at speech recognition). But where Siri is still better is understanding context and relationships. In fact, that was the whole point of Siri and what set it apart from any other similar technology. Siri also understands context over multiple queries, not just one question, which is also important.

Still, if I'm Eddie Cue, I want Apple to have a true ultra fast, ultra reliable search engine that makes no excuses to anyone. It's the backbone to anything search related regardless of the context. Part of what makes Google search irresistible is the speed and accuracy. Its tough to match but Apple is going to have to do better.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by bispymusic View Post

Siri can show a city's population just fine. I suppose Cape Cod is too small of a city to show, based on the database it uses.

Since when was Cape Cod a city? Or are you not in the USA?
Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
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Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
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post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

The point of Siri is that she's meant to know what tools to use to answer your query.

She should look up Google automatically if that's going to provide the answer to my question. Not ask me if I want to perform a search.

She really doesn't want to use Google I guess 1wink.gif
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Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
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post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by bispymusic View Post

Siri can show a city's population just fine. I suppose Cape Cod is too small of a city to show, based on the database it uses.

Since when was Cape Cod a city? Or are you not in the USA?

Interesting point which actually makes Google's service even more impressive since it apparently added up all the of the populations of the various towns on Cape Cod to derive the answer. I tried it with a few other counties that I am familiar with even those which have a city within the county with the same name and it definitely does the math correctly. For example you can try asking for the population of Orange County CA and then asking for Orange CA, which is a city within Orange County.

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post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Here come the "I'm a hugh fan of Apple, but..." posts.

hi hugh. and, indeed. likely right behind the apple apologists.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Maybe they are too busy right now...

 

700

Maybe...

 

 

1000

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post #24 of 27
It's blinding fast, and accurate to boot, but here in the UK, it does not give voice responses, limiting itself to opening helpful web pages only.

No options settings can be found to enable voice responses.

A pity, as it would make Google Search a worthy competitor to Siri if only it could talk back.
post #25 of 27

UPDATE: I changed Default Language setting to English (US) from English (UK) and now get voice responses on some (but not all) queries.

 

One wishes the likes of Microsoft and Google would stick to their core competency (useful and cool SOFTware) instead of greedily chasing after profit margins and muddying the specialist hardware market with half-baked offerings.

 

Then we'd get a steady stream of impressive stuff like this update from GOOG...


Edited by airmanchairman - 11/1/12 at 3:55am
post #26 of 27

Agreed for the most part. Google is at their best when they work on the software side of things, with Motorola a needless distraction IMO.

 

Regarding Google Voice Search I was floored by how fast it was the first time I used it several weeks ago. It does an excellent job parsing what I've said, and search results have been pretty much spot-on.

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post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Agreed for the most part. Google is at their best when they work on the software side of things, with Motorola a needless distraction IMO.

 

Regarding Google Voice Search I was floored by how fast it was the first time I used it several weeks ago. It does an excellent job parsing what I've said, and search results have been pretty much spot-on.

Yes, but Google needed to get their own OS on devices to protect against potentially being locked out of closed eco-systems.  And they needed Motorola to defend themselves against Microsoft, Apple and Oracle.  

 

It's a dog eat dog world, Google is simply doing what is necessary.  I don't think they want to be in the hardware business any more than Apple wants them to.  Google seems happiest when they're inventing new, crazy things, paid for by their advertising model.  They've always struck me as being run by incredibly creative nerds who were forced into advertising by necessity, and would rather do other things.  

 

What I can't wait for is cars driven by Google, driving is tedious sometimes (rush hour).  I also love their cloud services - it works seamlessly between my phone, the wife's iPhone, and our computers (which run Linux).  

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