No, Android’s rudimentary voice commands cannot compete with Apple’s Siri – not even close

“Apple announced speech recognition for the next iPhone. Big deal. Android’s had it for more than a year. Apple is just playing ‘catch-up’ and the feature’s not really earth-shattering anyway. Right?” Mike Elgan asks facetiously for Cult of Mac.

“Wrong. Everything in that opening paragraph is wrong, except the sentence that reads ‘big deal,'” Elgan writes. “Siri is a very big deal, the biggest of deals.”

Elgan writes, “In fact, Siri is the most important thing to happen to mobile in this decade so far… Android Voice Actions is great technology, and is widely used by many Android fans. But it’s not really in the same class as Siri… [which] will be unlike anything the public has used before.”

“You can say things that technically or literally have nothing to do with what you mean, but Siri will in many cases figure out what you mean based on context, history and and artificial intelligence designed to understand regular human speech,” Elgan writes. “For example, if you want to set an alarm for your nap, just say ‘wake me up in 20 minutes.’ If you want to know what meetings you have scheduled for later, you can say, ‘how does the rest of my day look?'”

Elagn explains, “Android Voice Actions can’t do anything like this because it’s voice command software, not artificial intelligence… Apple via Siri will make A.I. a mainstream, everyday reality.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Android is for the cheap and/or ignorant. We pity those who settle for less than the best — a blatant, half-assed imitator, no less — especially when the best is basically the same price.

88 Comments

  1. Now watch google copy this in about a year (or more) and say…”oh how else could we have put a voice command system without copying apple” as they did with android and samsung did with the galaxy tab

      1. More like “redefine.” It’s not just an “improvement.”

        Apple did not offer a smartphone for a long time, until Apple had the hardware and software technology needed to redefine the meaning of smartphone. After iPhone was released, the general definition of “smartphone” became an iPhone.

        Apple did not create the first MP3 player, but after iPod, the general definition of “digital music player” was an iPod. Almost every personal computer in use today, whether it’s a Mac or Windows PC (or even Linux), is “personal computer” as re-defined by Apple in 1984.

        In the same way, Apple did not fully incorporate voice-based commands on mobile devices until Apple had the technology to do Siri, which is MUCH more than voice-based commands; it’s AI. And going forward, voice interaction with a mobile device has been RE-defined by Siri.

          1. I’ll post here what I’ve been posting on other forums all week:

            It’s no surprise at all that the subtlety of this week’s event’s name was lost on all the pundits relative to what it was really about: “Let’s TALK, iPhone”.

            Clearly, the core message was not about the iPhone at all, it was about Siri… Siri is Apple’s next great contribution – a paradigm shift that will, over time, completely change how we use ALL of our devices from here and into the future.

            It’s big… huge… a game changer. It is to computing today what the mouse and GUI was in 1984.

            1. In a few weeks, it will be difficult to find a pundit who dissed the iPhone 4S launch. They will be saying “I was there for its launch and I immediately knew that Siri was the next big thing! A major paradigm shift!”

              But iCal knows the truth…doesn’t we, precious?!

            2. Just when competitors *think* that they might be catching up on smartphones by copying the iPhone, Apple is already skating to the destination of the next puck.

              So long, smartphone! Hello, AI phone!

              You can’t even legally copy the iPhone 4 and iPad, Samsung and HTC and Google. How in heck are you going to deal with the AI phone?

      1. However, Google also has an interest in AI, beit just to interpret the search clauses that you type in. But it is only recently that the users start to reap the benefits.

        But after all these years, Google still doesn’t support a proper boolean (and nested) search clause, let alone perform some AI on THAT.

        What have they been doing all the years up to now? Rather than make progress on the long promised intelligent searches an improve on the understanding and interpretation of search requests, they must have concentrated on trying to know as much about their users as possible.

        1. My google searches are no longer even phrases. Instead, they are a string of words that let me look up something. I only use nouns because its the only thing google understands.

    1. Samsung is going to be in a world of pain. What’s wrong with being the #1 supplier to the most valuble company in the world? Geez. They think they can compete with Apple in the world of hardware-software? Dream on… now they have ruined what was once a cozy relationship, and they will be used on when Apple feels like using them. Apple is the ravishing 24 year old girl who can date anyone she feels like.

    1. Google Voice is primitive. It’s akin to what a touch interface was before Apple came out with its multi-touch magic on the iPhone and iPad. You see, earlier touch interface was mainly an information kiosk type where you touch to select from a menu of choices. But with Apple’s multi-touch, you can manipulate elements on the screen with ease and intelligence.

      Similarly, Google’s Voice is like the crude information kiosk. Apple’s SIRI is like HALL 9000 as depicted in Space Odyssey. HALL’s is fictional but SIRI makes the fictional HALL 9000 a reality.

      I hope Apple would digitize Steve Jobs’ voice as standard in the voice activation component of SIRI in the iPhone, iPad and the Mac. This should be the most lasting and appropriate tribute to be accorded by Apple to the legacy of Steve Jobs.

      Since SIRI is deeply integrated with Wolfram Alpha and Nuance, they might be attractive acquisition candidates for Apple.

  2. “Android already has voice commands!” – Android sufferers

    “But wait! Windows had automatic software backup long before time machine came out!” – windows sufferers

    “I already have an mp3 player that I only paid xx bucks for!” – Dell ditty sufferers

    “Nobody will ever want to use this thing called a mouse” – old what’s his name… dvorjakedup

    It’s just a never ending parade of people who don’t understand that Apple takes what is, and makes it work. A whole lot better.

  3. I don’t think it’s going to be so easy to copy. Even Apple didn’t copy Siri or create it, they bought it. And they mentioned their servers several times. Now we know what the purpose of the enormous data center in North Carolina. It wasn’t just iCloud, it was obviously Siri. As they said at the keynote, its a combination of the resident software on the phone and the process at the servers. This is a major undertaking that cannot be simply duplicated by some developers. I’m not saying that they can’t do it (though I see it as very unlikely), but for sure don’t expect it to be mimicked at the drop of a hat.

      1. Back when Apple first started playing with voice recognition about 15+ years ago, I set my Mac to recognize commands. Every time a fire truck drove by, my Mac was certain I’d said, “Shutdown.” It was fun. Siri is not fun, it’s amazing.

      2. On New Zealand television some while ago was a phone company advertisement. (Naturally, I forget which phone!) The guy is in his car with his wife. He’s using a hands-free simple voice-control system. He needs to ask his phone to call his mother-in-law. He is obliged to whisper “call the old trout”. Wife suitably grumpy.

    1. I think it’s beta because those servers need some time to crunch the early data and learn from it. The first time someone says, “help me get some grub,” Siri wll say, “Hold on a moment… I’m not sure I understand.” then you’ll explain and anyone anywhere who asks the same will get food choices.

      The massive server-farm data-center will help Siri learn at an exponential rate…

  4. Remember when Steve Job enumerate the user interface trough time? The keyboard, the mouse, the click well, the finger?? Now, he left us the ultimate user interface of the decade, THE VOICE!!
    Now, if a new master mind raises to became the next Steve Jobs, he has to invent the MIND!! as an user interface.
    BTW, does Siri depends on the Internet to work even for in device actions? Like phone calls, playing music, setting timers?
    I mean, where does the command recognition and interpretation takes place? En the phone or the cloud?

    1. I think you’ll find it’s built into the phone, which is why it cannot function on an iPhone 4, only a 4S, because the 4S has the RAM and the processor to run it. It HAS to be native to the phone and it’s OS, because there is no guarantee that a data capable network will be available. It’s very common for me to have a network connection, but no data connection, and I was on vacation last week in a part of the UK where ‘No Service’ was the default on my phone, the only time I could guarantee any data connection was using the wifi of the pub I was staying at, as even there I could only get a phone network for a few seconds at a time. Those who maintain that ‘the cloud’ is the answer to all their problems should get more than a couple of miles away from their home cities sometime, find out what the real world of flaky network and data connections is really like.

      1. While you are correct- it has to stand on it’s own- in a lot of ways, without a network connection, some parts won’t work anyways. But I am sure their will be an opt in to share anonymous data so apple can let siri evolve and get better. I have zero doubt in my mind.

        Imagine where this will be in ten years. I think this will be the legacy he leaves that makes the most profound of changes in our society. And that’s a hard act to to follow given what he’s already accomplished. A month ago, outside wishful thinking nerds, who thought they’d be carrying AI in their pocket by the middle of the month? NO ONE.

        Pretty fucking amazing.

  5. Apple did not JUST buy Siri – Apple changed a great deal to what Siri was when it was an app available to download.

    Android is using (vlingo) it’s not even close.

  6. I invite everyone to download and watch (again if you had) the interview Steve gave on June 1, 2010 at the All Things Digital D8 Conference from iTunes. I had goosebumps hearing the man talk about quite a few thinks that we know recently (Siri, iCloud, etc.). Specially how he talks about how the concept iPad and iOS came to be )before the iPhone in fact), way back in the early 2000s!!! Steve gives an inside on how things do work at Apple and after watching it (I did back when it came out first but paid little attention)… gave me peace of mind on how things will be at Apple in the future… And he really hinted about Apple getting the TV into the living room hopefully in the not so distant future.

    1. gotta agree on price. I paid about the same for my android phone when it came out as I could have spent on a new iPhone.

      No beef with apple, I was replacing a 2nd Gen iPhone. I just wanted a device so that I could dig into Android and hack about a bit.

      The cheap or free Android phones are um, well they are crap. Like anything if you want quality expect to pay something for it.

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