Apple Inc.’s voice search assistant, Siri, and Google’s voice search, Google Now, have recently been compared in tests and the grade is now in. Piper Jaffray’s analyst, Gene Munster, put both voice assistants to the test by asking each virtual assistant a total of 800 questions.
Munster’s questions were tracked based on how well each feature understood his questions and whether their responses were found useful. What Munster discovered is that both assistants have improved, but like anything in life, there is always more room for improvement.
Last year, Google Now received a D-, which Google managed to improve to a C+ this year. The improvements that Google has made have been significant compared to the virtual assistant’s last year’s performance. The drastic improvements were then shared with Google’s investors and their price target on stock increase from $985 to $1,263.
Apple Inc.’s Siri also had an improvement from a C grade last year to a C+ this year. However, the most significant improvement goes to Google Now by closing the gap and now comparing on par with Siri’s C+ rating.
Both tech giants are putting a lot of effort into improving each of their technologies, with both time and money. As mobile devices become more and more prevalent in our society, searching from these devices also became more prevalent. Voice activated search assistants offer the user a great convenience of providing hands-free advantages over the much slower and tinier keyboard-typed queries and tasks.
Munster found significant improvement for Google Now to understand the voice commands when in an “uncontrolled environment.” When Google Now was able to recognize the questions posed to it, there was a 9 percent improvement in Google Now’s response.
Out of the 800 questions that Munster asked each technology, both Siri and Google Now were able to answer 79 percent of the questions with relative and useful responses.
Compared to the same test last year, Siri improved 2 percent of the responses from last year’s 77 percent. However, Google Now has gained the most ground this year, measuring on par with Siri’s 79 percent, up an impressive 18 percent from their last year’s score of 61.
The biggest shock to Munster was how Siri’s relative responses were supplied to the virtual voice assistant. Last year Siri supplied 27 percent of the responses from the competitor’s Google search results. This year Munster found Siri only supplied 4 percent of the responses with a search from Google’s search engine. Instead of using Google, Siri used another competitor to Apple Inc., Microsoft’s Bing to supply the majority of the answers.
Along with Microsoft Bing, Siri also used Wikipedia and a search product named WolframAlpha. Wikipedia is a non-profit, open-platform, online collaboration by citizen-supplied information for use as an online public encyclopedia. WolframAlpha is a product designed by Wolfram Research. It is more of a computational knowledge engine that curates data gathered from factual queries. Unlike a regular search engine, WolframAlpha does not supply a list of documents nor web pages.
As both Apple Inc. and Google pump more time, money, and effort into each of their technologies every year, one will have to expect a steady improvement when comparing Siri to Google Now. However, with the most improvement being seen from the Google side, it brings into question whether this year’s big improvements came from efforts of Google’s new voice controlled Chrome browser extension, or is it the other way around?
By Brent Matsalla