The Siri to come vs Google Assistant

iPhone - Siri

When the beta version of Siri first made its debut on iPhone 4S in 2011, it signalled the beginning of the artificial intelligence (AI) race. Sadly, since 2011 to date, we see little to no improvements to the once talk-about or joked about, Siri.

Fast-forward five years later, Google released the Google Assistant. It was far from perfect, but it showed glimpses of brilliance and a peep into the future of artificial intelligence that Siri could have already done so, much earlier in the day. One of the reasons for Google’s success was the ability to integrate the Google Assistant with their Google Search Engine, Maps and other consumer and marketing tools, which made it smarter and more relevant than before.

However, unlike Apple, Google did not stop at making their searches more interactive with the Google Assistant. They added wits to their AI assistant, which although Siri can do the same, it’s not as witty as the Google Assistant. One could argue that it’s because Google has the backing of their search engine but you can’t deny the foresight of the leaders.

Google Home

The introduction of the Google Home in 2016 did not help Apple’s pursuit of AI dominance or at least play catch-up. Instead, it showed how Apple had dropped the ball ever since 2011. Even the Amazon’s Alexa could be a smarter alternative than Siri, as it stands.

To further strengthen Google’s dominance in AI technology, during the Google I/O 2018 Conference, they introduced a slew of enhancements to their products and upgrades like Smart Compose, Suggested Actions, Six New Voices to Google Assistant, Continued Conversation and Google Duplex, the future of smart assistants.

The winner of the race seemed definite and clear until a few weeks ago; Apple introduced their new Chief of Machine Learning and AI Strategy, John Giannandrea.

Before joining Apple, John was the man behind Machine Intelligence, Research and Search teams at Google. So what does this mean for Siri?

We do know that Apple does not have a search engine and to use Bing as their default, was nothing short of a competitor feud. And to start a search engine now does not make sense for Apple or any companies after witnessing, Yahoo’s demise.

One of the major changes that we could expect with John’s appointment is the refinement of shortcuts that Apple is heading towards, which is brilliant but dated. That is why John has a huge task ahead to eliminate the need to set key phrases to activate specific command from Siri with just one voice or the understanding of intention.

Another change to come for Siri could be the language recognition capability. Early this year, Google entered into the Singapore market with their Google online store, and they also entered into the hearts of Singaporeans through Singapore English. That means the Google Assistant can recognise Singlish (in short) without the need for us to speak with the assistant using a fake accent. The Siri to come could allow us to speak with ease and understand us without rejecting our requests most of the time.

The last thing that I personally hope that Siri could do is to have a better integration with their location-tracker.

Once, I asked Siri where I was and she replied, “Singapore.” Really? While everyone in the car had a good laugh, it did reflect Siri’s inability to capture the need of the user, the information required and the gap in location-tracking.

Of course, we will never know what Siri could do until Apple unveils the curtain of the new and improved Siri. However, one thing for sure, based on past experiences, we will not see much changes anytime soon.

I predict that it will take perhaps one or two more iPhones before Siri can do what the Google Assistant can already do now.

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Mark Ko

Besides tech, I love chicken rice. Point me in the right direction and I'll go and try it. :)

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