Hey Siri, Google Assistant is winning in Artificial Intelligence and it’s not even close

“Google might have a long way to go before it starts selling iPhone-like numbers of Pixel phones, but there is one important area where it’s firmly in the lead, and it has nothing to do with bezels or beats,” Michael Simon writes for Macworld. “It’s about intelligence.”

“At its recent iPhone X event, Tim Cook pulled out Steve Jobs’s old Wayne Gretzky quote about skating to where the puck is going, but there’s only one company that’s thinking forward right now and it’s not Apple—it’s Google,” Simon writes. “New hardware might have been the reason for the event, but machine learning was the strongest undercurrent, and the message Google sent was clear: Our AI is better than your AI.”

“Apple’s first home AI speaker won’t hit shelves until December, but Google already has three of them. When it was announced in June, HomePod appeared to have an advantage over Google Home and Amazon Echo with its high-fidelity, room-sensing smarts, but now Google Home Max has landed, and it might be even better,” Simon writes. “The real difference-maker is Google Assistant… In its first year, Google Assistant has advanced further than Siri has in the past seven. And it’s getting smarter every day.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When, if ever, will Apple’s commitment to user privacy turn from handicap to selling point?

Google has no such handicap. Google wipes their feet on users’ privacy and vacuums up their personal data every second of the day.

Regardless, Apple would be smart to let the user opt-in to sharing more information with Apple in exchange for a Siri that really works for users. Apple should have been doing this for years. If they did, they might be shocked at how many users opt-in because they trust Apple.

40 Comments

    1. Yet much of the time when Siri fails me or performs worse than Google Assistant it seems to have little to do with lack of personal information about me and more about being able to (1) understand what I requested (2) have enough knowledge to provide a helpful answer or do the right thing. I suspect that while privacy vs individual user data can explain part of the gap between the two services, another big part comes from Google having google.com and all the underlying data and experience that includes (not just st the user facing search results).

    2. Future is niw about AI
      The war is on !
      Apple has no choice if they want be relevant down the line..
      They either have to compromise their mantra or find a way around it to gather huge amounts of data , develop the proper Analytics and Algorithms…. and try to CATCH UP BIG TIME!

      Google’s contextual undertanding and response/suggestion repository/algorithms are years ahead! Imo
      Apple has to.. as in HAS TO find a way and catch up .
      Without …It’s on a path to oblivion….
      This is serious!
      The present difference in AI is not acceptable or even an option! Imo

  1. Apple wasn’t smart enough to snap up Waze before Google did, and that was users *voluntarily* submitting valuable traffic info. Siri/Apple Maps just gave me a different route than in the past, and I didn’t know why until I checked Google maps to see there was an accident adding five minutes to the trip. Apple Maps will also happily route me through streets that are closed for a few hours due to an event; again, not an issue for Google Maps.

    User privacy isn’t the only handicap for Siri, the far bigger one is Apple refusing to let users contribute to its services more directly and in realtime.

    1. trying to make siri seem 100% human is the problem (ala dave 2001), would be happy learning simple commands to steer siri deep into op sys and data banks to improve speed and reliability

      1. Long term I think Apple is on the right path though. Siri is going to seem to lag behind now but within a few years it will become obvious how far ahead Apple actually is on this front. Languages is one example. Apple already offers far more languages than any of the other players. But Apple’s holistic approach moves more slowly, there’s no way around that.

        1. Language tech is a real battlefield right now. There is one company (ili) that is releasing devices that don’t need Wifi and translate within 0.2 seconds. There are limitations however in that it only translates one way per device (easily remedied with 2 devices) and the limited amount of languages it currently can translate between. Their take is that current technologies (Google included) take too long between the speaker and the translation for a comfortable cadence to conversation.

          Google on the other hand has announced their BT Pixel Buds to compete with Apple’s Airbuds that make it even easier to translate speech to/from 40 languages. http://www.wral.com/google-s-new-earbuds-can-translate-40-languages-in-real-time/17000750/

          Being able to use Google Translate offline is also a big advantage over Apple (you can even use it on iOS devices) when traveling w/o a data plan. https://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-05-11/google-translate-is-now-available-offline-for-when-you-travel

          IMO Apple has a long way to catching up given the current state of the technology.

            1. That’s the Google Translate app, that isn’t Google’s AI on the device which only supports 8 languages while Siri supports over 20. You can use Google’s AI in 8 languages. You can use Siri in 20+. Don’t get me wrong, Google Translate is very useful, but that isn’t Google’s voice assistant AI.

            2. My mistake, you’re right about the Assistant being able to respond to only 8 languages currently. You commented on a tangent to my post concerning Translated languages supported.

      2. Reports are that Google’s investment in the purchase of DeepMind is starting to pay off with more natural sounding voice and better understanding of individual voices w/o extensive training by the user. First real ‘test’ for the tech will most likely be the next update to the Google Home family of speakers.

    2. Knowing something and not knowing something are not subjective!
      You either do or you dont.

      Google AI knows more, understands better and corrolates better.
      These are not subjective.. they are quantifiable!

      Apple has to take this threat super seriously or they risk becoming irrelevant!

  2. Apple Maps are better but still lag Google by a country mile.

    Driving through rural areas, Apple Maps cannot differentiate between a gravel Farm Road and an arterial highway and tries to route you that way.

    Select ETA ONLY and Apple Maps still tries to re-route you onto Interstates or other commonly congested roads and streets.

    Then there is still the issue of Apple Maps not having bridges and roads that have been open for well over a year and trying to route you through closed bridges and roads.

    I am tired of trying to get Apple to correct their inaccuracies. Google responds faster and is far more accurate.

    1. I entirely agree with you.

      Tried driving in Vancouver a year or so ago, gave up and switched to Google. Vancouver is a fast growing city and entire sections were missing or wrong in Apple Maps.

      And Vancouver is major city on the same coast as California…
      I was wondering how Apple Maps looked like in Australia or Europe.. ?

      Don’t Apple SVPs take Apple Maps and Drive Around?

      I’m all into new stuff but all these things Planet of the Apps TV shows seems a distraction when they can’t deal with the vital core, I wish they could Walk and Chew Gum at the same time but apparently they don’t seem to be able to.

  3. Well if you’re dumb enough to use a Google product or service, perhaps their AI should be smart enough to do your thinking for you? Lord knows they’re collecting enough data on their users to know what they need and want.

    “We know what our users are going to do before they do!”

    -Eric Schmidt

    And that about sums up Google’s intentions.

  4. Siri’s learning through the years seems non-existent. The number of dictation errors & web search successes remains at the same level. Yes, the privacy matter determines AI success at the macro level, but Siri has difficulty at a basic micro level. I turned Siri off months ago…I don’t need/want the frustration. Back to the main point, it’s not just about privacy…which implies Siri’s is hampered merely b/c of Apple’s noble respect for customer’s privacy. Not true.

    1. You obviously don’t understand machine learning. The more data you can throw at it the faster it learns and the more accurate it becomes. Google does this in the cloud with all your (everyone’s) data and has been doing it for a very long time.

      Apple does not. Apple has left this at a device level, with iOS 11 though, Apple is moving that towards a user level (meaning it learns across all your devices). This will vastly increase the speed at which it learns you and your habits.

      There’s also the issue of giving a learning system time to actually learn something. If you don’t use it – IT WILL NEVER GET BETTER! I’ve been using Siri since it was released… and at this point it is very accurate FOR ME. It even picks up what I’m saying when I mumble.

      1. OK Mike, thanks for letting me know what I don’t know. What I do know is after years Siri should know my e-address, as I use it hundreds of times a week, it’s in my address book, and she works for the company that uses xxx@mac.com not xxx@mack.com. This is simple, basic information that should be in her DNA. In addition, the dozens of corrections have never been incorporated. This need to no broader world assistance, even though she had it for the years are used Siri.

  5. I just downloaded G Assistant to try my own comparison. I was expecting G assistant to destroy Siri as I stopped using Apple’s personal
    Assistant a year ago due to frustration. To my surprise I found that Siri is much better than I remember and G assistant is not the AI god that I’ve been reading about recently. Macworld says that Siri couldn’t identify the lead singer of the Smiths whereas G assistant got it first time. I found the reverse. Siri came back immediately with Morrissey and a nice graphic and G assistant came back with Wiz Khalifa. After asking a selection of mathmatical, geographical and scientific questions I found to my amazement that Siri is much much improved and usually came back with a nice graphic of a wikipedia entry, wheras G assistant whilst mostly accurate came back with a selection of website links that I had to choose from instead of an answer to my question. So all in all and with a big slice of humble pie on my part (due to past criticism of Siri) I actually like the new Siri. In my brief reaquaintance I found the experience acurate and concise whereas G assistant although mostly accurate was more like a glorified google search and nothing really AI about it. This is just my experience over the last hour, so it goes to show you can’t believe everything you read even on MacWorld.

    1. That’s interesting because that reflects a comparison featured here earlier this year where the two were asked the same series of varied questions and their responses compared. I too with all the negativity I had heard was surprised to see that Siri was almost always comparehended better, faster and gave more comprehensive answers and that interestingly was predominantly in an area where Google should be strongest because of its heritage in search. However it seemed so much the exception in what I read before and since in reports that I was beginning to think it all a dream. So glad to see your experience reflects that one so there is at least some substance to that experience. Whether overall it means much I dont know, though I am just glad that after a year trying without Siri understanding me I tried after that report to get her to play me some Air from my library and she did it perfectly. So there must be some improvement occurring.

    2. Well, most of what you read on the internet isn’t to deliver factual information, it’s to be as sensational as possible in order to garner ad views. A Mac site saying that something non-Apple is better, whether true or not, is one of the best ways to get hits.

  6. Personalizing Siri does NOT require an off-device database specific to each individual, I.E. a surveillance database at Apple.

    I’ll simply point that out as fact. I’m not going to elaborate it is would likely result in techno conversations I’m too distracted to engage today.

    The core problem is that Siri is, relatively, dim in its abilities as a pseudo-A.I. (What a fun term!). That’s Apple’s fault with regard to advancing Siri’s coding. It is NOT a problem of Apple needing to turn into a user surveillance company. Google specifically does that NOT for the sake of advancing their pseudo-A.I. They do it because that’s their biggest SOURCE OF REVENUE. IOW: The Customer Is The Product.

    No thank you! 😛

    1. Fact is from various reports Apple got distracted too, surprise surprise, for a few years they seemed capable of little else. Clearly someone or the whole team in charge of Siri just didn’t realise what was possible or at least others were incapable giving them time. To progress at their leisure and thus sat on their asses while others broke through those perceived barriers. However members of the original team knew what could be achieved and left when they were held back and left. That seemed like conspiracy theory for a while but now seems very probably the case. We all know Apple it likes to progress in leaps and hold back progress until it fits into an overall plan as it presently has with AR. With Siri this was a big mistake they lost interest and time as they put it relatively on the back burner and now they are left playing catch up as a result. Let’s hope they can manage something of a leap as HomePod is launched, if not then that will truly show their lack of puck skills in this particular case. Indeed to many until the sudden impetus of the last 6 months seems to be rectifying previous brain fades at the top.

    2. I agree that an offline DB is not required, but would help immensely when you upgrade your device and need to reinstall all your Apps. Having the accumulated ‘intelligence’ Siri has gained about you would be nice to have moved over at the same time.

      1. √ Point taken!

        I’m trying to think of a way for iOS to create an encrypted database of such information that Apple can’t open without the user’s permission. We’re getting murky here. iOS has to be able to access it, but Apple can’t, and it has to be up in the cloud somewhere for restoration by the user.

      2. Once we had that option — we called it a Mac. Backing up an iPhone or iPad to a Mac could and should be the default. The user’s custom dictionary locally stored could be 10000000 times more useful than Apple or Google spitting back at you whatever the cool kids are saying. Local dialect and language matters and Siri, like Apple management, is tone deaf.

        How stupid that instead of empowering users and encouraging further sales of Macs, Apple chases after Google. The pimply faced kids in the local Apple store didn’t even comprehend that a person would actually use a Mac to back up an iPhone. Instead the very first thing Apple forces iOS users to do is create an iCloud account. Well as we know, iCloud is slow and obtuse. Well so is iTunes now as well, but with a Mac in the good old days syncing was fast and totally painless.

        Sorry to say it but Apple is the new Microsoft.

  7. I would hardly call either platform ‘artificial intelligence’. Voice-based interface for search? Sure. In that regard why is it a surprise? Google has been in search for a very long time. But please, let’s drop the AI hyperbole.

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