Android Jelly Bean: Siri versus Google Voice Search

| Analysis

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.

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The big question is how Google is going to monetize this. If you look at the history of their search page it went from mostly search results with ads and paid links reduced to a small segment to what now is mostly paid links and ads. I’d be worried that Google Voice Search will end up at the same place.

“Q: Android Phone, who’s the prime minister of Japan?
A: Are you considering a trip there? Here are sponsored links to travel sites.
Q: No, I just want to know who the prime minister is.
A: My apologies. If you’re interested in learning Japanese, here are sponsored links to language education products.
Q: Aargh! I give up.
A: Let me show you products related to depression.”

Darren Anthony

“Definition of a robot” - This will work on the iPhone if you ask the question differently. “What is a robot” brings up definitions from W.A.


I think I’d prefer Siri’s request for web search, rather than automatically eating up the bandwidth for searches or displaying images. It’d be interesting to see which replies came back faster when on slower cell data connections.


Did Page or Brin not say when Siri was introduced - “People want to use their phone to speak to other people - not to a computer” ? and now they slavishly copy Apple and claim innovation.

I wish Apple would create a more robust e-mail system so that I can get rid of my gmail addresses.



@Vino hahaha you wanna talk slavish copying. Tell me about the last 2 iterations of iOS. How much of that functionality was already in Android??


Google?s Android Jelly Bean operating system won?t be available for developers until mid July.

Yeah, Apple better get off its ass. In another 12 months, 7% of the installed Android base will have Jelly Bean. [Prediction is FSO - For Snark Only]

How much of that functionality was already in Android?

You mean the Android OS that wouldn’t even exist in its present form if Apple hadn’t thought to do it? That Android?



Oh right I always forget your Apple bible tells you that Apple invented everything didn’t they. Not to fear I can help you out.

Apple DID NOT invent the smartphone
Apple DID NOT invent smartphone OS with that familar icon grind appearance.
Apple DID NOT invent touch screen gesturing in mobile OS’s


You mean the Android OS that wouldn?t even exist in its present form if Apple hadn?t thought to do it? That Android?

That is just so stupid!! That is the problem with iTards like you! You are so ignorant that you think apple created the first smartphone..

Android was is development since before 2005! iPhone came out in 2007. And iOS5 completely ripped off Android slide down notification drawer!


Come on, you guys, this argument is stupid.  Software folks borrow ideas and methodologies from each other all the time.  Just like real mechanical devices, software also generally follows the “forms follows function” mantra, which is why software patents are so stupid.

All of this fosters competition, which is what spurs all sides to work harder to stay ahead.  What matters isn’t always who did it “first”, but how well the market has accepted what you’ve done.

Case in point:  tablets.  Just because Microsoft had been releasing things they called tablets for ten years doesn’t mean shit in the long run, because it wasn’t until Apple released the iPad that the market accepted that product and the market for tablets exploded.  So, Apple didn’t “invent” the tablet, did they?  No, but they did invent the form that modern tablets now follow.

Did Apple invent the smartphone?  No, of course not.  But after Apple released the iPhone, nobody made smartphones like they used to. 

Did Apple invent the pull down notification menu?  No, but they knew a good idea when they saw one, and it improved their products.  Nobody is saying anything different.  Doesn’t Android borrow the scroll and bounce thing Apple invented?  I think they also use the pull down to update thing Apple developed, too.  I also think those things have improved mobile operating systems for us all, don’t you?

Was Android in development since 2005?  Maybe, but since Apple released the iPhone in 2007, so was iOS, I guarantee it.  So, who got to market first, and who changed that market into its present form?  Apple did, Android was released over a year later, and has become so fragmented, it is hard for consumers to keep up.  iOS has a new version released every year, and every version of the iPhone except the older models are able to run the newest iteration, unlike Android.

This has resulted in even greater fragmentation, and even with new phones, consumers often can’t get the latest upgrade version of Android!

Even so, Android has been accepted by a significant segment of the market, which keeps Apple on their toes, which is good for all of us.

Vive le difference!


?Definition of a robot? - This will work on the iPhone if you ask the question differently. ?What is a robot? brings up definitions from W.A.

Jelly Beans voice search correctly handles both versions. I presume the correct Apple response to this is “You’re phrasing it wrong”?


I sold my iPhone 4s & never look back!!!
I just got the GALAXY NEXUS from google play store and just rooted & installed JELLY BEAN…
Oh my, I jizzed on my pants…
ios 5 & ios 6 CANNOT touch JELLYBEAN… Believe me or not because I tried both before I sold my iPhone 4s…


I think I?d prefer Siri?s request for web search, rather than automatically eating up the bandwidth for searches or displaying images. It?d be interesting to see which replies came back faster when on slower cell data connections.

You can use Google Voice offline to search for local content and offer commands.


“iOS is better!” “No, Android is!”  “No, iOs is and always will be!” “Android is better, always has been and always will be!” “Google just steals from Apple!”  “Apple just steals from everyone!”

Silliness compounded.

Ideas feed off each other. That is how development of new products works: by looking at the competition and saying “That’s a good idea, how can we do it (without getting sued) even better?”  It is a close association with “What can we do in this market that will blow the doors off what is being done now?”  In either case, the company looks at what is being done before deciding how they want to do their own product.

It happens in everything from personal data/communications devices and their associated software to dry cereal and candy bars.  If Google has come out with a feature that out-classes iOS, good for them, and good for those who use Android products. Reacting to Google’s latest and greatest will simply make Apple’s next feature set that much more impressive, which in turn will make Google work hard to out-do Apple, and then Apple works hard to out-do Google in an ever-repeating cycle.

And consumers benefit, whichever products they choose to purchase.  It is how competition is SUPPOSED to work.

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