Siri kicked off the voice-enabled personal assistant trend, but she now has two big reasons to look over her shoulder: Cortana for Windows Phone, which is smarter in some ways, and Google Now, which many Android users have come to love.
To see which assistant is best, we took Cortana, Siri and the Google Now assistant for a test-drive, using the iPhone 5s on iOS 8.1, the HTC One M8 on Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Android 4.4.4). After six rounds of competition, evaluating everything from speed and accuracy to the interface and special features, it turns out that Apple is still in the lead.
Siri: Apple’s Siri is a fully voiced assistant that’s been available to iPhone users since the inception of the iPhone 4S, offering users the freedom to ask questions, set up appointments and reminders, and interact with the sassy digital diva by setting up a nickname and more.
Cortana: Microsoft’s assistant is based off of the character of the same name from Microsoft’s Halo video game franchise. Featuring voice actress Jen Taylor, Cortana is available to anyone using Windows Phone 8.1. In some cases, you’ll receive your results with a computer-generated voice that is, admittedly, a lot less interesting than Taylor’s.
Google Now: Google Now is all about easy access and simplicity. When triggering voice commands, you can simply say, “OK, Google…” and then give your command. Like Siri and Cortana, you can look up info online, but Google Now is also good at delivering personal recommendations based on your search history and preferences.
We asked all three assistants the same series of questions, to measure which one performed the best. Which one emerged victorious?
“Where can I see the movie The Equalizer?”
Siri (3.5 seconds)
Cortana (6 seconds)
Google Now (5.47 seconds)
Best Answer: Google Now. While Siri was a tad faster, Google offered a more comprehensive listing of theaters as well as a synopsis of the movie, as Google Now connects to more third-party services than just Fandango.
“Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning.”
Siri (2.7 seconds)
Cortana (5 seconds)
Google Now (6 seconds)
Best Answer: Siri. In terms of quickness and ease of use, Siri wins here. After we made our request, Siri required the fewest number of clicks and taps to set up the reminder.
“Text message Josh ‘Go with the flow.'”
Siri (4.2 seconds)
Cortana (5 seconds)
Google Now (8.01 seconds)
Winner: Cortana. I preferred the aesthetics of Cortana’s texting setup to Siri’s, simply because Siri’s message didn’t look like a normal iMessage or text I would send. Google Now completed the task but took almost twice as long as Siri and Cortana.
Overall Winner: Siri
Siri was the first digital personal assistant, so Apple has had time to perfect it. For instance, Apple has added voice options, one-touch activation and integration with third-party apps. It’s starting to play with voice activation as well.
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