Google gives its iOS search app Siri-like voice magic

By , Oct 30, 2012

Google’s most advanced voice search has arrived on iOS! The company yesterday issued an update to its Voice search app for Android with new Google Now features for Android 4.1 devices. And today, the search Goliath has finally released a long-expected update to its iOS app. It brings a bit overdue iPhone 5 compatibility in addition to – and this is huge – the vastly improved voice search capability with artificial intelligence aspects akin to Google Now on Android Jelly Bean devices.

Give it a few more releases and this app is bound to compete with Apple’s Siri. Also on tap are the usual bug fixes and a few other tweaks and enhancements. It’s a free universal binary that supports all iOS form factors natively so make sure to update to the latest version. Jeff had a chance to take it for a spin, I’ve included his video hands-on right below…

Google touts enhanced voice searching that lets you both listen to the results of your queries and use your voice to ask natural-language questions. Previously, you were limited to word commands only. Yes, you can now ask stuff like “what’s the weather like in my area” and get meaningful results.

The company says you will enjoy “faster and significantly improved” voice recognition and mentions that text is “streamed on the fly”. More on voice searching in Google’s support document.

From iTunes release notes:

• updated for the iPhone 5
• improved Voice Search
• simply say what you want and get results without typing
• faster and significantly improved voice recognition with text streamed on the fly
• get answers spoken directly back to you with web results tailored to your questions

And, according to a blog post announcing the updated app, it now taps Google’s Knowledge Graph which “maps over 500 million people, places, and things in the real world”.

Some of the examples include questions like:

• “What does Yankee Stadium look like?” Google will show you hundreds pictures instantly.
• “Play me a trailer of the upcoming James Bond movie.” The trailer starts playing immediately right within Google Search.
• “When does daylight savings time end?” The answer will appear about the search results, so you can set your clock without have to click on a link.
• “Who’s in the cast of The Office?” See a complete cast list and find out who made you crack up last night.

Our own Jeff Benjamin has done some real-life tests, here’s his video.

This release has actually been in the pipeline for a while, per the below clip from August.

Google on August 8 announced intentions to bring its digital assistant from Android 4.1 over to iOS via an update to the Google Search app. Watchers wondered whether Apple would ever actually approve a Google-branded app aimed squarely at its own digital assistant, Siri.

That mystery has been now solved as Apple and Google have obviously resolved any differences that may have led to delaying the program. Pictured at the top is the attractive image search interface on the iPad. Below is a pair of screenshots depicting the Google Search app on the iPhone 5.

You should definitely give the new version a try.

I initially hesitated using the app back when it was first released. However, Google’s been improving it relentlessly up to the point where it’s grown to become my go-to search experience on the iOS. I just love the fluid interface, the simplicity and butter-smooth execution, especially when searching for newspaper articles and images.

And now, with Siri-like capabilities, the program in my opinion provides the best search experience on iOS there is. Updated your installation of Google Search and feel free to post your initial observations down in the comments.

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  • http://twitter.com/jnsjoerd Sjoerd Janssen

    Is this that update that’s been waiting since august? I mean, looking at the voice thingy side of the app.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      yeah, looks like it

  • Joey_Mousepad

    A “far more bigger”? Lol

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      fixed :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.tilden.9 Jamie Tilden

    It’d be really nice if they optimized their YouTube app for the iPhone 5, too.

  • http://twitter.com/Neriya8440 Neriya

    I update the app but, when I ask question like what’s the weather like today, the app doesn’t answer me and just search it on google. Please help (iPad 2 iOS 6).

    Someone know if google working on YouTube app for iPad?

    • http://twitter.com/paubhavyang Bhavyang Pau

      i also hav nt got on iPhone 4 but hav got it on iPad 2 iOS 6… i guess reinstalling back the app may solve it.. .lets give it a try…

    • http://twitter.com/paubhavyang Bhavyang Pau

      change the language to English (US) and u will receive the answers back… :0)

      • Appletiser

        thanks for this, i was about to ask why i had no speech feedback :)

  • http://twitter.com/don_afrim Don_Afrim

    Why can’t they do it like that if i go to google’s website on my iphone? why do i need an extra app for that? They need to make this app a web app when i go to google thats how i want it to look!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

    Excellent, excellent, excellent. It works wonderfully. I’m still going to use Siri for iPhone tasks and tasks she can handle, but I love having Google’s new voice abilities for tasks I know are going to be deferred to “search the web” anyhow.

    More options are a good thing, and when someone makes a jailbreak tweak to launch the new voice search via activator, it’ll be even better.

  • http://twitter.com/AlbertoMS89 Alberto Martinez

    this is pretty cool for the ones that don’t have Siri.

  • http://www.facebook.com/idmeraz Isaac Daniel Meraz

    It doesn’t talk you back in Spanish but the voice recognition it’s just awesome. I’m impressed. And for. iPhone 4 users like myself, it’s a perfect Siri like feature

    • armandolara94

      So you can talk to it in Spanish and still recognize what you’re saying?

      • Manuel

        Yes… As long as you set the language to Spanish in the settings. And voice recognition is very impressive, too bad it doesn’t answer the questions.

        I mean, if you ask it in English “how’s the weather like in New York”, it will show you the weather. If you ask the same thing in Spanish, it will display a bunch of links, not the answer itself.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mynorokun Mynor Ortiz

        That’s right, it works perfectly in spanish too

  • brantastic

    So far the app is pretty cool and accurate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.grant.10 Justin Grant

    I love apple but they could definitely take some notes from google on this one… It’s amazingly faster than Siri, and just a better experience.

  • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

    It’s just a search engine not an assistant. Siri is much more than this. In terms of just a search engine between them, google wins depending one how you use them. Siri can be used without having to open an app, if you don’t ask it to. While this has some maneuvering. Non-jailbroken devices might find the greatest use from google search.

    Now do not misunderstand this as bashing google search because I’m not doing that. If you open this and compare it to Siri it is different. But if you ask Siri how tall Kobe is vs having to open your phone and navigate to google search than Siri wins. It’s not really fair comparing them though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=568052448 Raven Woods

      You realise though this is as integrated as Siri in Jelly Bean devices right? Only reason that Siri seem more useful is because Apple wouldn’t let Google to integrate it like Siri. Hence it is an app…

      • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

        Exactly my point. It’s an app not an assistant. It my be an assistant in android but not in iOS.

        They only app that I know of still available in the app store that mimics Siri is Vlingo. You can send texts, find restaurants, directions, update social media, etc.

  • DomPerignon1

    Hands down, this app is more accurate and faster than Siri. It is remarkable! Just one word to describe this app: EXCELLENT. I know, Siri is an assistant and it helps you to set appointments, notifications, etc.; but as a search engine this app is awesome. By the way, for those of you that don’t have Siri, this app does at least 85% of what Siri does but much faster, better and more accuarte. Just give it a try and you’ll see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patient00 Juan Ricarte

    can’t wait for the tweaks

  • CollegiateLad

    I just asked what’s the temperature in Italy and I get a list of websites…

  • Mac_Guy

    Google is already guessing what your next word is going to be just like when you type on the search bar. With Siri, it listens to what you say first, then sends what you said to an Apple server, Apple returns the appropriate response, and then Siri delivers. Thats probably why Siri is much slower compared to Google.

    Until Apple makes some serious improvements to Siri, the only thing she’ll be used for is to set a timer or turn on my alarm before going to bed :P

  • TriguyRN

    Apple blocked it because it kills siri and works on all devices.

  • http://twitter.com/RidhwaanAziz Ridhwaan Abdul Aziz

    Why doesn’t it speak back the results to me? Even with a question like “whats the weather in New York” It shows me only the weather results but does not speak back like in the video. Help anyone?

    • http://www.facebook.com/benebdon Ben Ebdon

      Your language must be set to US English and speak results back must be on (in settings)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rameshworsht Rameshwor Shrestha

    i just love how fast it is….

  • http://djterm.de/ Robo Term

    the updated version answers only if speech feedback is set to english. that’s lame. not even 5% of the world’s population are english native speakers.
    it can’t send messages or anything else out of the app.
    not comparable to siri.

  • http://twitter.com/AshishPilote Ashish Kumar

    I dont get the voice reply like on the video on my iPhone 4s ! Is just me ???