Earlier this month during their WWDC 2012 keynote, Apple unveiled iOS 6. With it came some significant improvements for Siri, including some general (and much needed) performance improvements and the ability to request sports scores, movie statistics, and more.
Not to be outdone, on Wednesday Google announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The newest version of Google’s mobile operating system is getting its own spate of awesome updates, including offline voice typing and much more. One of those new features in Jelly Bean is Google’s own answer to Siri: Google Voice Search. Much like Siri, Google Voice Search lets you speak a variety of requests and commands using natural language.
Now, full disclosure, I’m a bit of an Apple fanboy. I love my iPhone 4S. And my iPad, and my MacBook. And the ginormous iMac I get to use every day at work. I even love Siri, for all her flaws. That said, even I thought Jelly Bean and Voice Search looked pretty darn cool during the keynote. But the big question is, how does it compare? How does Jelly Bean compare to iOS 6? How does Voice Search do against Siri? Samsung’s S Voice did okay, but Siri generally performed better. Surely Voice Search can’t be that much better than S Voice, so at best it will be a tie, right?
Well, the good folks over at TechnoBuffalo Got their hands on an iPhone 4S running iOS 6 beta 2 and a Galaxy Nexus running the developer preview of Jelly Bean and did what any self-respecting nerd would do: they put them in their own little Thunderdome to see which voice activated personal assistant is better. Even better, they filmed it:
So yeah, there you go. Apple fanboy that I am, I have to admit that Siri, bless her heart, pretty much got smoked. Siri did all the same things, and for the most part it did them well, but it also did them noticeably slower. When it came time to search the web Siri asked first, taking a lot of extra time, while Voice Search realized that the only place to get pictures of pygmy marmosets was the internet, and so launched a web search automatically. What’s more, it did it without leaving the voice interface and switching to a browser.
The bottom line is that while Samsung’s S Voice looks and feels a lot like a cheap Siri knock-off, Voice Search is a genuine competitor – and in this test, at least, performed a lot better. Much as I hate to say it, it’s your move, Apple.