Posted in: Android, iOS, Mobile software

Voice Search on Jelly Bean teaches Apple’s Siri a thing or two about web search

At the announcement of the latest iteration of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google unveiled their updated Voice Search engine. It’s not exactly a virtual personal assistant but we decided to just go with it and see how it stacks up against one of the best ones out there – Apple’s Siri.

Google’s Voice Search in Jelly Bean, as its name suggests, is limited at doing web searches, and setting up the occasional alarm. Siri, on the other hand, is a full-blown virtual assistant – able to open applications (iOS6-only) set up meetings and even crack you up with a joke. We’ll be comparing the two in a series of web search tests and a side task to see how they fare.

The new Voice Search in Android 4.1 utilizes Google’s Knowledge Graph which essentially tries to understand a given search query and translate it into a more human-like response. Siri, on the other hand, uses the Wolfram Alpha database to search for an answer.

Both pull out relevant and correct information, but as you’ll see below, Google’s response resembles much more that of what an actual personal would say. Dare I suggest it’s also a tad better looking than Siri as well?

Anyhow, when we asked Google’s Voice Search to make us laugh with a joke, it just did its thing and gave us web search. However, it did let us set a simple alarm, which shows that Google might have further plans for the technology and bake it deeper into Android at some point down the line. Not sure how Samsung is going to react if that plays out, given their foray into the personal assistant realm with S Voice.

Check out how the battle played out in the video below.

Voice Search did very well at bringing us search results quickly, but not all of the questions we asked it garnered a vocal response. Voice Search was also unable to launch any apps like Siri can, but then Google might argue that that’s not within the parameters of a voice search program.

We know that you can’t compare a Voice Search app to Apple’s virtual personal assistant. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in the need to search the web, it’d be good to know how each device handles the task.

So, which one did you like better? Sound off in the comments.


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