Some of the biggest news to come out of Google I/O this week was that Google Assistant is coming to iOS, looking to take a shot at Siri, Apple’s own entrenched AI assistant. While Assistant has been available on Android for a while now, how does the AI assistant stack up against Siri when its forced to go head-to-head on Apple’s far more limited playing field? We put the two head-to-head.
One of the most important parts of any AI assistant is how easy it is to access. One of the biggest selling points of Amazon’s Echo hardware is the always-listening feature that lets Alexa always be on hand to respond to any queries or commands. On Android, Assistant has deep, OS-level hooks that make it more more accessible and functional. But on iOS, things are a little tougher.
Siri: On Apple’s hardware, Siri still has a massive home court advantage when it comes to actually starting the digital assistant. Namely, Siri is baked into iOS on a core level — its accessible from anywhere, whether you’re in an app or at your lock-screen by simply holding down the home button. Siri is also always listening, too, and can be activated anytime through a “Hey, Siri” command on newer iPhones (although the feature, like much of Siri these days, feels largely half-baked.)
Assistant: Google is making a big play here with Assistant, but it’s fighting an uphill battle here with the inherent limitations Apple has on iOS. That means that Assistant lives in the Assistant app. But Google is doing its best to put Assistant in as many places as possible: there’s an Assistant widget to quick launch the app, which is accessible from both the notification shade, the lock screen, and the home screen. Plus, there’s a 3D Touch action to also start Assistant.
Unlike when Siri first launched back in 2011, AI assistants can’t just work with a single device anymore. Working on an iPhone is one thing — but working across an entire ecosystem is a whole other ballgame.
Siri: The best thing that can be said about Apple’s assistant is that it exists on a variety of hardware platforms. If you’ve got an Apple Watch, a Mac, or an Apple TV, you can use Siri on it, but that’s about the extent of it. Siri on different platforms largely exist as separate things — you can’t use the native Siri on your iPhone to play a song on your Apple TV, for example, or use Siri on your Apple TV to make a call.
Controlling smart home utilities with Siri only works if manufacturers support Apple’s HomeKit, and you’ll need either an Apple TV or iPad to serve as a hub. Plus, you’re still locked strictly to Apple’s ecosystem — if Cupertino doesn’t make hardware for it (like, say, an Amazon Echo-like speaker), then you can’t use Siri on it.
Assistant: Obviously, just like Siri works with Apple stuff, Assistant works with Google stuff. That means Chromecast,…