Are you SIRI-ous or serious about asking your smart phone questions?

Siri Virtual Assistant

Siri Is An Incredible Virtual Voice Assistant For iOS Device Users

Many iPhone users will access the Siri talk feature for search queries, in addition to other Siri options such as texting and appointment setting. Android phone users can avail themselves of apps such as the Google App or Assistant – Virtual Voice Assistant. What joy it is to be able to press a button or simply speak and to instantly find out important business statistics or even trivia. How amazing it is to be able to roam freely and have virtually any piece of obscure, or not so obscure knowledge, at one’s fingertips. Having this ability must have a substantial effect on global productivity, not to mention the fact that it is just plain fun and settles a lot of arguments instantly.

The most famous of these virtual voice assistants is the mellifluous Siri, but she has competition, including the Google App. Which is better for search? Siri definitely has the advantage of convenience since the ergonomic Siri button is always available, being a physical fixture on the iPhone. The talking Google App is accessible with two key strokes, one to activate the App and the next to activate the microphone button on the app. So Siri has the advantage in terms of one-button accessibility.

The Google App

The Free Google App Is A Fantastic Efficiency Resource

Choice of Search Engine Is Important

Regarding the search engine that primarily drives the features, Bing is the default search engine for Siri, whereas Google, of course, is the default search engine for the Google App. So your search engine preference could also drive your choice of verbal search. But which produces better results?

Input Matters As Well As Output

It’s not just the quality of the output that matters, it’s also the quality of the input. The whole point of using a verbal search engine is the resulting speed and freedom from having to use your fingers. If you’re not understood consistently and accurately, you might as well type in your search, rather than speak it.

The Acid Test

Anyway, let’s put them to the test and ask four fairly random queries and observe which verbal searches produced better results. Although we don’t pretend that this blog represents a comprehensive scientific study, we have tried to provide some reasonable scope. We’ll ask four questions relating to the following broad topics 1) history, 2) household, 3) nature and 4) current digital marketing and see who wins.


Question

Results – Siri

Results – Google App

Winner

1) History – Who was the President of France in 1947? “Vincent Auriol” and the results were spoken. “Vincent Auriol and Leon Blum” and the results were spoken. Tie
, since Blum was only President of a provisional government.
2) Household – What do I do if I break a fluorescent bulb? State of Maine website was the result. Results not spoken. EPA website was the result. Results not spoken. Google App
, since the results were from the EPA page, whereas Siri produced less authoritative results from the Maine State Government.
3) Nature – What is the world’s fastest lizard? Black spiny-tail Iguana – 21.7 MPH, results not spoken “Black spiny-tail Iguana,” results are spoken. Google App
, since the results were spoken
4) Define EdgeRank (Facebook’s algorithm for deciding what posts appear on your Facebook news feed.) Results “Facebook Algorithm which determines what articles should be displayed in a User’s news feed.” Results not spoken. “EdgeRank is the Algorithm that determines what items populate your news feed.” Results are spoken, but GA had trouble understanding me and
I had to repeat it a few times.
Tie
– Unlike the Google App, Siri understood the question more easily, but did not articulate the answer, whereas the Google App did.

 

Google App Search Results

Google App Results For The World’s Fastest Lizard

The Winner

So the winner was the Google App, but Siri does seem to be making improvements lately, especially since the release of iOS 9. The reality is that it is so darn easy just to hit the Siri button and talk, that I often use Siri for search. If I need a more precise answer and my hands are free, I’ll use the Google App. Of course Siri does much more than search and is indispensable for reading and sending text, writing emails and setting appointments, reminders and alarms, among other functions.
Microsoft has also entered the Virtual Voice Assistant market with Cortana, now available on Windows 10 phones. And Amazon has recently launched its stand-alone Echo, which plays music, reads audio-books and controls light switches and thermostats, so it’s more of an “Internet of Things” device.

Hands Free

Both Siri and Google App have hands free features. For Siri, you can access her by speaking “Hey Siri”, but your device has to be plugged in. You can access the Google App by speaking “OK Google”, but the app has to be open, and, unlike Siri, your device does not have to be plugged in. Your device settings may have to be adjusted to access hands free.

Towards The Future – Be Careful What You Wish For

Google has recognized this sea-change in search methods. Their Hummingbird algorithm, pays attention to the context of words within full sentences, not just their individual meaning. Hummingbird is no doubt driven in part by spoken mobile search.

Smart Device

Will Very Smart Machines Eventually Take Over?

So, when is a personal assistant said to actually be “thinking”, in the human sense?  The great 20th century mathematician and code breaker, Alan Turing, devised the famous Turing test. If a human questioner could not tell whether the answers to a series of questions originated from a machine or a human, then the machine was said to be capable of thought.

Where will this trend towards ever more intelligent machines take us? Microsoft recently introduced and almost immediately took down their autonomous Twitter Bot since it was producing racist, misogynist tweets that it learned from fellow Twitter users.

Very Smart Machine Playing Chess

Even Grand Master Gary Kasparov Eventually Lost To A Machine, But At Least It Did Not Terminate Him

While these digital personal assistants are very useful, we should be careful what we wish for. Some of today’s greatest minds including Steven Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have all stated that if machines ever get smarter than humans, they may cause humanity severe problems and even spell our demise. On the other hand, Gary Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players of all time and a pioneer in computer chess, takes the opposite viewpoint. Anyway, I just asked both the Google App and Siri whether super-intelligent machines will ever destroy humanity. Strange, but neither of them articulated an answer.

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