The Google Search app for iPad and iOS was updated today, to Version 2.5. The headline new feature in this update is voice recognition. Or as the update change list describes it:
Improved Voice Search
✓ Simply say what you want and get results without typing.
✓ Faster and significantly improved voice recognition with text streamed on the fly.
✓ Get answers spoken directly back to you with web results tailored to your questions.
I gave the updated app a quick try on my iPad 3 and thought it worked quite nicely, so I then decided to do some quick head-to-head testing of Google Search vs. Siri on the iPad. The results were pretty interesting and pretty even. Here’s how things went when trying out a number of topics that both should be able to cover well – I spoke simple, short phrases for each query and did my very best to say them identically to both:
Weather: I asked for today’s weather and both Google Search and Siri got it right. Siri had the current temperature listed a couple degrees higher and I love warm weather so I’ll give that round to Siri.
Sports: Both did very well when hitting them with a few different sports queries, though Siri offered slightly nicer, more graphical results. Slight edge to Siri on this one.
Topical News: I used the term ‘superstorm’ for this round. Google Search immediately gave me plenty of good links about Hurricane Sandy. Siri kept thinking I asked about a superstore, despite multiple tries speaking slowly and clearly. Google Search was the clear winner on this one.
Conversions: Both were pretty spot on. I’d call this one even.
Trivia: I asked a few questions, including what is the tallest building in the world. Both got the answer right, but Google Search was faster. Siri had a better, more detailed answer on the very iPad specific ‘retina display’ query. Google Search wins this one.
Web Search in General: One disadvantage with Siri is that she often has to ask whether I want a web search for something. I think it should be a given 99% of the time – and in most of these cases that makes Google Search faster, ironically even when searching for something like ‘iPad mini news’. Google Search wins here, not surprisingly.
Location-based Queries: I found Siri to be more effective on several of these, including closest gas station, pharmacy, and Starbucks. Both apps gave good results, but Siri was better at highlighting the closest, most relevant result and presenting the results in a more useful way. Siri wins this final round.
Overall I’d say the results leave Google Search and Siri just about equal, with each better than the other at certain things. Of course Siri has a big built-in advantage because it’s built into iOS. Google Search should still prove very handy for voice searches though, and is well worth having around on the iPad and iPhone.
Here’s Google’s listing of what types of questions will work well with Google Search (and this is a good list for Siri too of course):
Have you all tried out Google Search since this latest update? If so, what do you think of it and how it stacks up against Siri?