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Siri and Google Search, face to face

The presentation in society of the latest version of Android is being one of the most talked about topics these days. With Jelly Bean comes several new features among which is the improvement of Google Search, making it the new virtual assistant of the most used mobile operating system in the world. Apple topped this summit first and, of course, several comparisons are already emerging between the two most coveted virtual assistants of the moment. Who will have won the fight?

Last Wednesday the Google IO 2012 started at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Among the novelties presented by the company of the great G, it is worth mentioning the new version of its mobile operating system (Android 4.1 Jelly Bean) and more specifically the improvements made in voice recognition. Eric Schmidt’s guys have put special emphasis on this topic, allowing dictation offline and renewing Google Search in a very noticeable way. Now, in addition to making conventional searches, we will be able to ask our Martian directly by returning the requested information in the form of index cards . What does this remind us of? Siri, indeed.

Siri and Google Search, face to face
Siri and Google Search, face to face

Given this incursion of Google in this type of interfaces, we have been not few the curious ones that we have put ourselves to investigate more in the topic and to compare both systems. Among the most serious studies are the one carried out by Fortune, who has had the detail of asking both voice assistants 1600 identical questions, half of them in a silent environment, the other half in noise conditions. As the intention is not to test the speech recognition itself, but the correctness of the answers, Google was introduced the questions in adverse conditions via keyboard ( why with Siri yes and with Google Search no? intention to cover up bad results? ). According to the percentage of hits in optimal conditions (same scenarios for both systems) the results obtained are devastating in favor of Google , being 18% better than its competitor:

Another aspect to consider is the user experience: how easy, intuitive and pleasant it is for us to handle both systems. To do this, there is nothing better than testing them in situ , which in our case is impossible and for which we have used tests carried out by other colleagues, from which we have recovered these two interesting videos:

At first glance Google Search seems faster, presents a much more human voice and avoids intermediate questions when searching for the information we request. On the other hand, Siri presents, in my opinion, a somewhat more careful interface (for color tastes), offering more information in the answers without becoming irrelevant. Once again, we must give as the winner the Android assistant in the usability section .

After this brief study, I was pleasantly surprised by the work done by Google, and it is clear that Jelly Bean’s search is faster and more accurate than Siri’s . However, I am not entirely surprised by this study, since when it comes to storing, classifying and searching for information I doubt that there is anyone better than the Mountain View company. While this is an important topic, I would like to see how these systems behave in more than just searches , how Apple and Google will integrate their speech assistants with the rest of their ecosystems , and how application developers will be able to have an API with which to make the most of these potential tools. I believe that this will be a crucial factor in the success of both systems and that the forces seem very equal. What do you think? Do you see the spoken interfaces as the way we will interact with machines in the not too distant future?

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