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Is Google Voice Search Better Than Siri?

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Critics are saying that Google Voice Search works much faster than Siri.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL A year ago, Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) introduced Siri, its voice-activated digital assistant, to the iPhone 4S. The company touted the technology as groundbreaking because Siri, as stated on Apple's website, "isn't like traditional voice recognition software that requires you to remember keywords and speak specific commands. Siri understands your natural speech, and it asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task."

Of course, users quickly realized that Siri's speech technology was far from perfect. "Want Siri to fix a mistake she made in your calendar? She'll counter that she can't change existing appointments. Asking her to 'call me an ambulance' results in her agreeing: 'From now on, I will call you 'An Ambulance.' OK?" wrote the LA Times.

Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was critical of Siri.

"I used to ask Siri, 'What are the five biggest lakes in California?' and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, 'What are the prime numbers greater than 87?' and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate. I'll be saying, over and over again in my car, 'Call the Lark Creek Steak House,' and I can't get it done," said Wozniak.

Enter Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Siri rival: Google Voice Search. Built into Android as a Jelly Bean feature, Google Voice Search, which provides voice responses to questions when it is able to and refers to Google Search results otherwise, was launched as an app on the iOS platform a few weeks ago.

Google will be able to charge higher rates for ads because when users use the app to search, it will make use of the iPhone's GPS functionality to pinpoint user location and serve up location-based ads

Already, some tech writers have announced the superiority of Google Voice Search. Slate's Farhad Manjoo, for example, says that Google Voice Search is much faster than Siri.

"Google begins decoding my question as I'm speaking it, so it's ready to present me with an answer just a split second after I'm done. By contrast, Siri takes one or two agonizing seconds to understand my question and to find an answer," writes Manjoo.

He continued, "[T]he best thing about Google Voice Search is that she's overflowing with knowledge. Many times she'll answer your questions with exactly the right answer. Other times she won't speak, but will at least give you a search page full of answers, almost always correct ones. That's better than Siri's way of coping with her own ignorance-she'll either apologetically explain that she doesn't know, or she'll sometimes ask you if you'd like her to search the Web for you, which is a stupid question. (She should just search the Web if she has no better answer.)"

Motorola, too, says in an ad comparing Siri and Google Voice Search that the latter performs more quickly. Then again, Motorola sells Android phones, so it might not be the most objective of judges.



Undoubtedly, Siri and Google Voice Search will each have their own passionate defenders. And should users want to avoid Siri and Google Voice Search, there are plenty of other voice-activated digital smartphone personal assistants, including Evi (available on iOS and Android), and Android apps such as Skyvi, Vlingo, Robin, SpeakToIt, and Maluuba.

Meanwhile, after the departure of John Browett and Scott Forstall, Apple has appointed longtime Apple executive Eddy Cue, who successfully built the iTunes music store, to revive the fortunes of Siri and the similarly much-criticized Apple Maps.

Twitter: @sterlingwong
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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