Android Jelly Bean: Siri versus Google Voice Search

Google showed off its new Jelly Bean version of Android OS on Wednesday, and one of the features the company highlighted was Siri-like voice search. How well does Android’s voice search hold up against Siri? The Mac Observer performed the same searches on an iPhone 4S that Google demoed on Android to see how the two compare.

Siri vs Android voice searchSiri vs Android voice search

Google’s Hugo Barra showed off Android Jelly Bean’s voice search feature by looking for answers to four queries. We asked Siri the same questions to see how closely the two compare.

  • Who is the Prime Minister of Japan? Android OS responded with a Google search result that properly identified Yoshihiko Noda as Japan’s Prime Minister, and included a photo from Wikipedia. Siri replied by showing the same information, without a photo, from Wolfram Alpha.
  • What is the definition of a robot? Android displayed “A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.” Siri, however, suggested a Web search. After tapping the Web search button, Siri returned the same answer as Android.

Siri needs an extra tap to search the WebSiri needs an extra tap to search the Web

  • How tall is the Space Needle? Android and Siri both promptly replied with “604 feet.” Android, however, also included a photo of Seattle’s Space Needle. Siri displayed the information in Wolfram Alpha’s computer printout style.
  • Show me pictures of pygmy marmosets. More of a demand than a question, Android came back with a collection of images from a Google search. Just as it did for the robot question, Siri needed permission to perform a Web search, but then showed the same images Android found.

Android Jelly Bean’s response voice sounded natural and smooth, even more so than Siri. Both voice search systems were quick and responsive, although Android’s direct link into Google searches saved a tap or two, and also included images by default instead of the image-free results Siri provided.

Both voice search systems seem very capable, although based on Google’s demo it looks like Apple has some new features to look at adding to Siri to bring it in line with Jelly Bean. Siri, however, is available today while Google’s Android Jelly Bean operating system won’t be available for developers until mid July.

With Android’s new features coming soon, Apple has some serious competition for its voice-based search features in Siri but still has the edge in overall functionality since Siri also handles other commands. With Google breathing down Apple’s neck, however, there’s a good chance both platforms will see even more innovation thanks to some serious competition — and that’s good news for consumers.