Apple's Siri Voice Commands

At its meeting today, Apple released one key piece of iOS 5 that was not much talked about before–Siri.  In April of this year, Apple had acquired Siri, “your personal assistant,” for somewhere around US$100 to US$200 million. At the time, most people didn’t think much of it. However, Apple has now made it a key part of the new iOS 5, using the catchphrase “Your wish is its command.”

Recently, I expressed my thoughts about iOS 5 in an article about the top 5 features that iOS 5 copied from Android. After this morning’s announcement, you can chalk up another point for Android; that is, there are now top 6 features that iOS 5 copied from Android. Google has been offering voice search functionality on Android since 2009, and voice commands functionality on Android since 2010.

Google Voice Actions for Android gives your voice (yes, literally, that sound that starts in your throat and comes out of your mouth) the force of a command to do stuff like the following:

  • Send text messages
  • Listen to music
  • Get directions
  • Call businesses
  • Call your contacts
  • Send email
  • View a map
  • Go to websites
  • Write a note
  • Search Google

Both Siri and Google Voice Actions offer basically the same functionality and features. However, Siri, originally a third-party app, will be removed from iOS devices and will only be available again after the said devices are upgraded to iOS 5. More specifically, iOS5 will only be available for the iPhone 3GS upwards, and the two latest versions of the iPod Touch.

Apple has some explaining to do for the iOS users who will be stripped of Siri and cannot upgrade to iOS 5. Finally, as if borrowing Voice Commands from Android was not enough, Apple just had to go Google and stick the beta tag on Siri.

Who’s the copycat, really?  Who’s really looking up to whom?