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Google Search vs Siri: Apple’s assistant can’t match the power of Google's Search

June 30, 2012

One of the main Android 4.1 Jelly Bean highlights is without a doubt the new Google Search, an app that has been completely redesigned to offer Android device users quicker results and an improved overall experience. The new Google Search app now has an advanced voice component and offers a Google Now feature that can be used as a personal assistant when having to deal with various day-to-day activities. Therefore, Jelly Bean has its own voice-assistant, and while it’s not called Majel, as we would have expected it to be named, it definitely does its job.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster decided to put the two to the test in a Google Search vs Siri battle, by asking both an iPhone and an Android device 1,600 questions: 800 in a quiet environment and 800 in “the busy streets of Minneapolis”. Unsurprisingly, Google won. I say unsurprisingly because let’s not forget that Google’s day job is Search. The company owns a huge chunk of worldwide online searches, because that’s how it makes money. Google’s main revenue stream comes from online ads, and that’s why updating the Search component in Android is so important.

On the other hand, Siri is not Apple’s search engine but a voice assistant that uses various online resources to come up with answers to the user’s queries. According to Munster, Siri gets 60% of answers from Google, 20% from Yelp, 14% from WolframAlpha, 4% from Yahoo and 2% from Wikipedia, and it’s lagging more than two years behind Google “in its learning curve”.

An updated Siri version is supposed to come out this fall when iOS 6 gets official, while the new Google Search engine will be available on all Android devices that will support Jelly Bean – we don’t have official update details for most of them.

With that in mind, here are the results of this Google Search vs Siri battle:

  • Google understands 100% of the questions (not surprisingly, since they are keyed in)
  • Google replies accurately 86% of the time
  • Siri comprehends 83% of queries in noisy conditions, 89% in a quiet room
  • Siri answers accurately 62% of the time on the street and 68% in a quiet room.

And here are some of the errors made by Siri during testing:

  • What team does Peyton Manning play for? Responded with the answer to the previous query. This was the most common error.
  • Where is Elvis buried? Responded I can’t answer that for you. It thought the persons name was Elvis Buried.
  • Where am I? Pin dropped in the wrong place.
  • When did the movie Cinderella come out? Responded with a movie theater search on Yelp.
  • How do I get from Boston to New York? Responded I can only give directions from your current location. I cant give you directions to a place you are not in.
  • What spices are in Lasagna? Responded with a Yelp search with lasagna on the menu.
  • When is the next Haley’s comment? Responded “You have no meetings matching Haley’s”
  • I want to go to Lake Superior? Responded with directions to the company Lake Superior X-Ray.

Anyone looking forward to using the new Google Search on Jelly Bean devices?