Siri Waveform

Siri continues to receive criticism over at times unreliable performance although Apple’s been advancing its personal digital assistant by leaps and bounds since its debut in October 2011.

Google, on the other hand, is regularly praised for its powerful knowledge graph and accuracy.

You probably know that the search company’s exciting new feature, Assistant, recently made its debut on the new Pixel smartphones.

With that in mind, YouTuber Marques Brownlee took it upon himself to pit the Pixel’s Assistant against the iPhone’s Siri in a cool side-by-side video comparison.

Let the battle of the smartphone voice assistants begin!

In the video below, Brownlee activates Google Assistant and Siri at the same time, then asks them the same questions and follow-ups to see how each one responds.

Some notable observations:

  • Both assistants successfully accomplished simple tasks like opening apps, setting appointments and timers, checking the weather and more
  • Siri couldn’t answer a follow-up question about Obama’s height
  • Assistant didn’t know if the Los Angeles Clippers won the latest game
  • Siri didn’t know who won the Super Bowl and the team’s current quarterback
  • Google Assistant can’t recognize songs yet

And here’s the video.

Brownlee felt Assistant was more conversational, understood context better, sounded less robotic and had more personality to it that Siri. Siri could handle contextual questions in multiple queries, but she’s not quite up there on the level of Assistant.

On the other hand, Brownleee said Siri’s responses complete with images, charts and other visuals were ultimately more useful to him than Assistant’s spoken information.

Many Pixel reviewers lavished praise on Assistant, but not The New York Times’s Brian X. Chen who called the built-in artificially intelligent virtual assistant “still fairly dumb.”

Of course, as Google’s artificial intelligence gets smarter, the Assistant will become more helpful—but you could say the same thing about Siri, too.

Too bad the technology just isn’t there yet for digital personal assistants to become truly useful, fully conversational and proactive.

From Michael Nunez’s Pixel review:

In fairness nobody has it, and Google’s is better than what’s offered by competitors like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. The point is that as a whole, smartphone assistants aren’t smart enough to be defining features. They’re gimmicks, and Google unwisely decided to build a phone around one.

Or as The Verge’s Dieter Bohn put it,  “Google Assistant is absolutely the smartest of the assistant bunch, but it’s not yet in a class of its own.”

Apple seems to have been ramping up hiring for its new machine learning division.

Its stealth work on artificial intelligence and machine learning came to light in a recent interview which detailed how these techniques have improved not just Siri’s brain and natural language processing, but also features like the Apple Pencil’s palm rejection or iOS 10’s autocorrect suggestions and the Memories feature in Photos.

  • Interesting comparison. I liked how he commented that SIRI was less conversational because she didn’t know how to answer “How tall is he?”, but I don’t think that was the issue (especially since she later answered several contextual questions). The real issue was that she didn’t know who the president of the US was and had to look that up on wikipedia (which I though was hilarious and a definite point for Google).

    Second thing I noticed was his example at the end about looking up photos of cats taken at his house in the last week. That’s actually something SIRI does too (just tried in in fact). Apparently SIRI just assumes that if you’re asking her you probably want her to find something you don’t already have whereas google defaults to showing you your stuff first.

    All in all I was actually impressed. I don’t use SIRI a lot and kind of expected it to be a one sided fight for Google but it was far more even than I thought. I’m impressed. I think the point about Google’s reading of content to you was also a valid one in that hearing it is probably more useful as the point of hands free is to not have to interact with the screen.

  • Rowan09

    Great review. People said Google was light years ago but I would disagree, it’s great in certain ways and vice versa.

  • Andrieux Querido

    If you think siri is dumb, you didn’t see it in another languages yet. Siri in Portuguese Brazil. is really dumb. Plus old voice. Shame on you Apple.

    • YaBoyLilMayo

      U sound hurt

  • Apple needs to get to work on Siri; make it smarter; more conversational; with a touch of personality. So when you ask; whats the weather ; it should add “its raining; you might want to take an umbrella;” or if its sunny; “you can leave your jacket behind today” because it knows yesterday was cold….

  • Bill

    Google talks way too much. Makes me wanna pull a Hillary on an Android phone. (destroy it with a hammer…)

  • John

    The most frustrating thing for me though, is the fact there’s so much for America and very little for people outside (for example, I would love to see sports scores and other sport statistics hard baked in to Siri for our two biggest football codes–AFL and NRL)

  • Xee

    Why is IDB not covering the slow memory (in 32Gb models) and slow modem chips in certain models (depends on region sold/model number of iPhone) of iPhone 7!?

  • Dave Kurt

    I wish they had demonstrated actual useful real world implications; controlling smart appliances, third party integration and hands-free control.

    Siri, without a doubt needs more work… But what’s important? what should their energy address? Ways to better ASSIST your days or include the height of celebrities to Siri’s catalog?