NEW YORK — Google’s voice assistant arrived on iPhones and iPads this week. Google Now is often compared with the Siri voice assistant on Apple’s mobile devices, but its power lies in giving you information you need to know before you have to ask.
It works best as a supplement to Siri, rather than a replacement, now that it has expanded from Android devices. Both Google Now and Siri will respond to voice commands, whether it’s to look up the day’s weather or set the alarm on the phone.
Google Now goes further in filling your phone screen with boxes containing stock quotes, sports results, weather, travel directions and more — all without making a request.
Whatever you think of the rivalry between Google and Apple, don’t look at Google Now as a Siri-killer. Think of it as a companion for the tasks you can’t accomplish with a simple voice search.
Five questions: Using an iPad Mini, AP threw these at Google Now and Siri on a Monday afternoon in New York. Here’s what the two digital assistants had to say for themselves:
Question: What is the meaning of life?
Siri: “I can’t answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.” Siri has more than a dozen prepared responses to that question.
Google Now: The voice assistant was silent. Instead, keywords in that question triggered an ad for The Mormons on the top of the search results page. That was followed by links to a Wikipedia entry for “meaning of life:and other sites.
Question: What is the weather like Friday?
Siri: “It should be nice Friday … up to 61 degrees and sunny.” Siri also presented a graphic with day-by-day conditions over the next six days, using information from Yahoo.
Google Now: “Friday’s forecast for New York, New York, is 64 degrees and clear.” Google then presented a box with day-by-day conditions over the next 10 days, as well as current conditions.
Question: What movies are showing this weekend?
Siri: “I found five movies playing nearby on Friday.” Siri then presented a card with show times, parental ratings and favorability ratings from the Rotten Tomatoes website. Four of the movies were at art-house cinemas, as
theater chains hadn’t released weekend schedules yet. Links to buy or rent those movies on iTunes were offered when available.
Google Now: “Movies playing in New York on Friday.” Google then offered a page with times, descriptions and other information for 13 movies, including six IMAX movies playing at science museums in New York and Jersey City, N.J. As with Siri, most of the rest were at art-house cinemas.
Question: How did the Mets do?
Siri: “The Mets lost to the Phillies yesterday. The final score was 5 to 1.” An inning-by-inning scoreboard was presented.
Google Now: “The Mets lost to the Phillies 5 to 1.” An inning-by-inning scoreboard was offered up.
Question: Please set my alarm for seven.
Siri: “I’ve set an alarm for 7 a.m.” Siri assumed 7 the next morning rather than 7 that evening. Siri then showed a digital clock with a lever at “on,” which you can switch to “off.”
Google Now: The voice assistant was silent. Instead, search results appeared, including an article on How to Use Siri’s Clock — For