If you’re like me, and most other busy professionals, multitasking needs to be as innate as breathing. Whether I’m scanning morning emails while making breakfast, driving to an appointment while taking a conference call, or simply doing three things at once because I want to, the fact of the matter is sometimes, I need a little help.
When Apple introduced Siri in 2011, I thought my life would never be the same. You remember the TV advertisements, don’t you? It was going to be like having an unpaid personal assistant at my side every day, forever and ever.
And then I met Siri, and we hardly ever spoke.
Since 2011, each update of Siri has been a little better. And now that Google has provided Android users with the same hands free convenience, I figured it was time to test out my old acquaintance and try her new competitor Google Now.
Here are the results from my hands free road test:
One of the obvious problems I observed in 2011 was Siri’s lack of contextual awareness. Siri repeatedly misunderstood my requests, did not provide relevant answers, and ultimately didn’t make my life easier (or anyone’s, for that matter.) Today I find this has improved, but not as much as I would like.
Siri’s only redeeming quality: snarky comments and bedtime stories.
On the other hand, Google Now has a better success rate on basic inquires, although some miscommunication still occurs. What Google Now lacks in personality, it makes up for in actuary and readiness—a huge win for Android.
Apple fans do not despair. Siri’s next iteration will include Proactive, which is tailored to help Siri understand more complicated requests. In the future, this could push Apple into the lead. Until then, for easy hands-free texting, my vote goes to Android.
Aside from ensuring the inquiries are received correctly, what about the actual command process? Which one is easier to use?
If you use an iPhone and want Siri to read your most recent text message, first you must ensure the “Hey Siri” feature is turned on in the settings menu. Then all you have to do is say “Hey Siri” and ask her to “read my text messages.”
From there she will recite your message, and follow by asking if you’d like to send a response message, which you can dictate and send.
No big deal.
Similarly, Google Now incorporates almost the same exact commands. Just say, “Ok Google, show me my last messages” and you’re off to the races. Your phone will tell you whom the text message is from and read it aloud to you. It then asks if you would like to respond, listen again, or delete the message.
There’s no distinct winner here in my book. The commands and utility of this hands-free feature are more or less the same, less the activation required to speak directly to Siri. But that’s not such a bad thing. It’s good to know you can turn off these features if and when I need to.
This one’s a draw.
Call me old fashioned but I don’t like Google knowing every detail of my personal or professional life. Google Now has brought up considerable concern regarding privacy issues, which may (or may not) take place all the time while you’re using Google and their associated platforms and services.
Google Now is no different. It’s scanning your calendar to make appointments, looking through text conversation and images to arrange context for the most sophisticated responses.
While there are currently no outstanding lawsuits about the matter, it’s clear that for some users this may be an issue.
Siri may be slow, but she’s no nark—one point for Apple.
Things are all tied up it would seem. The good news is that my hands are freer than ever before to multitask, thanks to the latest hands free texting apps via Apple and Android. But don’t take my word for it—try them both out yourself.