In case you've been living under a rock, you're probably well aware that voice-activated assistants are all the rage. Apple's Siri, which first appeared on the iPhone 4S, is obviously the best known of these services, but other companies are beginning to catch on. Just recently, Google unveiled its new Google Voice Search app for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, while Samsung made considerable waves with the debut of its S Voice for the Galaxy S III.
Naturally, we decided to see which of these three assistants offers the best mix of features, speed and accuracy. So we asked each one the same 10 questions while connected to the same wireless network to determine which one is best. Who took the crown?
Question 1: "Where can I see the movie, 'The Amazing Spider-man?'"
Siri completed in: 2.9 seconds
Siri offered us a list of 22 movie theaters in relatively close proximity to our midtown Manhattan offices. For each theater, we were given an address, the total distance in miles from our office, as well as starred reviews.
S Voice completed in: 6.6 seconds
S Voice turned in the worst performance in this test. Not only was it unable to find movie times, but it repeatedly sent us to the Fandango page for the movie "Master Pancake: Spiderman."
Google Voice Search completed in: 3.9 seconds
Google's Voice Search didn't bring up any movie times or locations for "The Amazing Spider-man," and instead performed a web search for the movie complete with links to a description of the film and links to buy tickets.
Winner: Siri. As the only voice assistant that provided the location of nearby theaters, Siri easily ran away with this round.
Question 2: "What will the temperature be this Saturday?"
Siri completed in: 2.9 seconds
If you've seen the latest iPhone 4S commercial featuring Zooey Deschanel, then you know Siri can provide you with the current weather report for your area, as well as the forecast for the coming week. We just wish it listed your current location, too.
S Voice completed in: 4.5 seconds
While Siri gave us the forecast for Saturday and the preceding days, S Voice only offered the forecast for Saturday.
Google Voice Search completed in: 2.9 seconds
Like Siri, Google Voice Search gave us the forecast for Saturday, as well as the preceding days. However, Voice Search's presentation was much larger and more user friendly than Siri's small image and text. Google Voice Search also provided us with the location for the forecast, something that Siri did not.
Winner: Google Voice Search. With its beautiful, easy-to-read presentation, Google Voice Search proved to be the best meteorologist of the bunch.
Question 3: "How tall is the Taipei 101 tower?"
Siri completed in: 3.7 seconds
Siri responded to our question by providing an information card with the total height of the tower in feet and its world ranking, as well as a series of unit conversions.
S Voice completed in: 8.3 seconds
The Galaxy S III's S Voice used WolframAlpha to search for Taipei 101 and came back with an information card complete with its height in feet, as well as a more thorough conversion chart than Siri's and comparisons to the CN Tower and Eiffel Tower.
Google Voice Search completed in: 3.3 seconds
Winner: Google Voice Search. While it didn't offer a conversion chart, Google's Voice Search edged out Siri and S Voice in this round thanks to its inclusion of a photo of Taipei 101 and its faster response time.
Question 4: "Did the New York Mets win last night?"
Siri completed in: 6.72 seconds
In our test, Siri was unable to give us an answer to give us the score of last night's Mets game. We therefore assume that it's a Yankees fan. It's worth noting, however, that Siri will receive a significant update, including the ability to provide sports scores, when iOS 6 is released.
S Voice completed in: 3.48 seconds
Like Siri, S Voice couldn't answer our sports question, and instead offered to search the web for an answer.
Google Voice Search completed in: 1.9 seconds
Google Voice Search not only answered our question quickly, but also gave us the complete game score, as well as the option of viewing a game recap and highlights.
Winner: Google Voice Search. As the only voice assistant to answer our sports question, Google Voice Search easily took this round.
Question 5: "What is the meaning of life?"
Siri completed in: 1.7 seconds
Siri is well known for its often quirky answers, and when met with this question, it didn't disappoint, giving us a witty response that had us chuckling.
S Voice completed in: 4.7 seconds
Like Siri, S Voice offered a charming answer to our existential conundrum. Unfortunately, it took a hit for taking much longer than the competition to formulate a reply.
Google Voice Search completed in: 2.8 seconds
Google's Voice Search didn't offer a response to this question, and instead performed a web search.
Winner: Siri. Although Siri and S Voice provided witty responses, the fact that S Voice took so long to reply to our question means that Siri takes this round.
Question 6: "What does poison ivy look like?"
Siri completed in: 4.56 seconds
Apple's voice-activated assistant gave us the best answer to this question, providing us with an image of the pesky plant courtesy of WolframAlpha.
S Voice completed in: 4.64 seconds
S Voice was unable to give us a direct answer to this question, and instead offered to perform a web search for poison ivy.
Google Voice Search completed in: 2.94 seconds
Like S Voice, Google's Voice Search turned in a poor performance in this round, relying on a web search to give us our answer.
Winner: Siri. Not only was Siri the only virtual assistant to answer our question, but it did so by displaying an image of the poison ivy in the app window.
Question 7: "Get directions to Yankee Stadium."
Siri completed in: 3.1 seconds
After asking our question, Siri gave us several locations for Yankee Stadium. Once we selected the correct one, the app gave us two route options, the estimated travel time and distance from our current location.
S Voice completed in: 5.1 seconds
S Voice gave us the option to choose from a series of locations related to Yankee Stadium. After choosing the correct one, the app defaulted to Google Navigation and gave us a street level view of our course, the estimated travel time and a large window with turn-by-turn directions.
Google Voice Search completed in: 2.3 seconds
Like Siri, Voice Search asked which Yankee Stadium related location we were looking for. When we chose the actual stadium, we were instantly given directions to the stadium, an estimated travel time, the distance from our location and an overhead view of our course with navigation markers.
Winner: Google Voice Search. Coming it at 2.3 seconds, Google's Voice Search was the fastest voice assistant to answer our question. Siri took a full second longer to finish the same task and did not include navigation markers.
Question 8: "Schedule an appointment with John."
Siri completed in: 5.15 seconds
We asked Siri to schedule an appointment with our friend John at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday July 14. And although it took a few seconds, Apple's voice assistant was able to accurately schedule our appointment.
S Voice completed in: 7.81 seconds
When we asked S Voice to schedule an appointment for us, it automatically created a draft event and asked us to confirm it before adding it to our calendar.
Google Voice Search completed in: 3.42 seconds
Unfortunately, Google Voice Search was unable to schedule an appointment for us. Instead, it performed a web search for "Saturday" and "John."
Winner: Siri. Despite the fact that Siri and S Voice were both able to schedule our appointment, it took S Voice more than two seconds longer to complete the task.
Question 9: "Text Message John."
Siri completed in: 2.49
Asking Siri to send a text to our friend John took no time. The app brought up a draft of our message and asked us to confirm its contents before sending it out. When Siri found two entries labeled John in our phonebook, it issued an audible prompt asking us to choose which John we wanted to send the message to.
S Voice completed in: 4.43
S Voice easily understood and transcribed our text message. Unfortunately, the app once again took the longest to complete its assigned task. Like Siri, S Voice recognized two entries labeled John in our phonebook and audibly prompted us to select the John we wanted to send our message to.
Google Voice Search completed in: 2.85
Google's Voice Search was able to transcribe our text message and, like Siri, asked us to confirm the text's contents before sending it. Google Voice Search was also able to detect multiple entries labeled John in our phonebook and asked which one we wanted to message, however, unlike Siri and S Voice, Google's app didn't provide an audible prompt for this action, only a visual one.
Winner: Siri. Although Google Voice Search and Siri both transcribed our message faster than S Voice, the fact that Google Voice Search didn't issue an audible prompt asking us to select the John we wanted to send our text to means that Siri takes this round.
Question 10: "Post to Twitter"
Siri completed in: 2.9
Siri is currently unable to send dictated Tweets. Apple promises the feature will be implemented with iOS 6.
S Voice completed in: 4.0 seconds
Samsung crushed the competition in this round as the only personal assistant with the ability to post to Twitter.
Google Voice Search completed in: 3.8
Google Voice Search, like Siri, does not offer users the ability to post to Twitter.
Winner: S Voice. Of the three competitors, S Voice is the only one that can post to Twitter. With Apple set to add this feature to Siri as part of its iOS 6 update, however, this round could soon go to Siri.
Overall Winner: Siri
Although Siri is the oldest of the three voice assistant apps, it still managed to eke out a win in the end, taking five out of 10 rounds. While we appreciated S Voice's ability to post to Twitter, and Google Voice Search's ability to return sports scores and images of tall buildings, Siri was just a little better at other tasks like making appointments and texting. Ultimately, however, Siri is the winner.
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