Talking to your phone, if you’ve ever used an Android device, isn’t something new. For iPhone users, this a significant new feature – no doubt about it. What has Apple done with Siri as compared to Google’s Voice Actions? They’ve added a bunch of pre-programmed phrases that shortcut you to the end result you want, and a lot more “talkback” functionality. By integrating with more apps and using tools like Wolfram Alpha, Siri makes using voice actions more of a one-step affair in terms of getting from speech to desired information.
As we know, Google Voice Actions (which are still surprisingly accurate) allow you to call contacts, text them, send e-mails, write notes to yourself, conduct a Google search, navigate, find places, etc. There’s probably things I’m missing. Google has made it clear they want to expand this functionality and for it to be even more intuitive, intelligent, and accurate.
98% of the time I do use Voice Search, I’m using it to do a Google search, or in the car to find a place or navigate to an address. I have never used it to send a text or write an e-mail. I’ve used the note-to-self function a few times, it’s handy occasionally. I’ve obviously used the “Call [blah]” function, too. Siri right now has way more pre-programmed functions than Google Voice Actions, but I imagine that might be changing with the Ice Cream Sandwich unveiling next week.
Aside from searching, navigation, calling, or finding a gas station (all of which generally take place in the car), I rarely use Voice Search. It has its place in my phone, and I love it, but I have zero interest in my phone reciting my text messages or e-mails to me. I can read. I could care less if it responds to “Find Italian restaurant” or “Siri, is there an Italian restaurant nearby?” The latter is only more intuitive to, not to be brash, old people. I’d prefer to say 3 words to 7. I don’t care if it feels more “futuristic” to say it in the form of a sentence. It’s a gimmick. Siri adds to the iPhone 4S’s list of big new features, but it’s evolutionary – not revolutionary.
As Matt Buchannan over on Gizmodo basically said: Like FaceTime, Siri is a great piece of software that Phone users will talk up and show off to friends a few times, and then proceed to never use again.