Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 03:02 pm PT (06:02 pm ET)
Google takes on Siri by adding voice search to standalone iOS appGoogle 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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