SLIDESHOW

Siri vs. Google Assistant: Which is better for iPhone users?

Google Assistant is now available on iOS, giving Siri new competition on her home turf. But which voice assistant is better for you?

siri v. google assistant for iphone
Credit: IDG
Battle of the AI bots

Siri or Google Assistant? Well, that depends on how you plan to use your iPhone's voice assistant.

While Google has made great strides in artificial intelligence, Siri has the perks of being seamlessly integrated into iOS, like waking her up by long-pressing the Home button or hands-free by calling out "Hey Siri."

We tested Google Assistant and Siri by asking them to tap into third-party services and to conduct some complex web searches. Here's where each voice assistant excelled.

siri google assistant settings
Credit: IDG
"Turn off Wi-Fi"

Winner: Siri

Here's where Siri's home-field advantage comes in. Using Siri, you can change a lot of the iPhone's basic functions and settings. For example, Siri can turn Wi-Fi on or off. And if you ask her to "take a selfie," Siri will launch the camera app and automatically switch it to the front-facing viewfinder. You can also open any of your installed apps using Siri, even Google Assistant. In addition, you can use Siri to search the App Store. That makes it really easy to find a new app you're looking for. – Oscar Raymundo

siri google assistant maps
Credit: IDG
"Navigate to work"

Winner: Tie

Both Siri and Google Assistant were very competent in fulfilling basic requests. During our test, both voice assistants were able to give us directions to "work," show us photos of our pets, make phone calls, and send emails and texts. Of course, Siri completed all these tasks using the iPhone's native apps, while Google Assitant tapped into Google Maps, Google Photos, and Gmail. So, the best assistant in this category will most likely depend on whether you're using the default iPhone apps or opted to use Google's suite instead. – Oscar Raymundo

siri assistant reminder
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"Remind me I have a call at one"

Winner: Google Assistant

One of the best uses for our phone assistants is reminders. With Siri, you can ask to set a reminder to make a call at 1, and it will oblige. The same is true with Google Assistant (though it'll work through your Google account, not the Reminders app). However, Assistant gives you much more control. Because of its conversational nature, you can say “Make that 12:30,” or “Change the title to Conference call,” and it will tweak it until it’s right. Siri won’t know that you’re talking about the same task and will offer to start a new one. – Michael Simon

siri google assistant apple music
Credit: IDG
"Play Toxic by Britney Spears"

Winner: Siri

Google Assistant can actually access Apple Music, but it's a hit or miss. When I asked it to play "Toxic" by Britney Spears, it started playing a karaoke version. I asked several times, actually, and everytime Google Assistant surfaced yet another weird version, from lullabies to random remixes. Siri, on the other hand, seemed to have read my mind and started playing the original version on the first try. Google Assistant was also unable to play the correct Apple Music playlist, and it can't tap into Shazam to identify songs. – Oscar Raymundo

siri google assistant web searches
Credit: IDG
"Find the cheapest flight to Palm Springs in October"

Winner: Google Assistant

Unsurprisingly, Google Assistant really excelled at performing complex web searches. When I asked it to find me the cheapest flight to Palm Springs in October, I got all the information almost instantly without having to leave the app. Google Assistant was even able to tell me the duration of each flight. Meanwhile, Siri defaulted to a basic web search using Bing that did not give me nearly as much detail right away. – Oscar Raymundo

siri assistant recipes
Credit: IDG
"How do you make grilled cheese?"

Winner: Google Assistant

Google Home recently gained the ability to offer step-by-step instructions for making millions of dishes, but even the rudimentary recipe search is better on Google Assistant. If you say, "Let's make grilled cheese," for example, it will provide a list of recipes to choose from, and offer instructions for the one you select. Siri isn't quite so helpful. If you ask it the same question, it will search for restaurants that specialize in grilled cheese, and even if you ask, "How do you make grilled cheese," it will merely take you to the Wikipedia page. – Michael Simon

siri google assistant reservations
Credit: IDG
"Make a reservation at a restaurant"

Winner: Siri

When I asked Google Assistant to make a restaurant reservation, it defaulted to pulling information from the top web search result. It was disappointing, no doubt, and pretty ironic that the web page was a how-to on making restaurant reservations via Siri. So, when I tried the same query on Siri, the voice assistant followed up asking for a date and time and then gave me a list of nearby restaurants with availability using the OpenTable app. – Oscar Raymundo

siri assistant trailer
Credit: IDG
"Show me the latest Spiderman trailer"

Winner: Google Assistant

If you ask to "play the latest Spider-man trailer," Google Assistant will automatically provide the expanded YouTube link, ready to play right in the app. Siri, on the other hand, will understand that you want to play a Spider-man trailer, but it will make you select from a lengthy list before it begins playing. But when I selected Homecoming from the list, it didn't bring up the trailer. It told me that it didn't see any movies matching it. – Michael Simon

siri assistant sports
Credit: IDG
"Who has the most home-runs this season?"

Winner: Siri

AI chatbots are great for when you want to know the score of a baseball of basketball game, and both Siri and Assistant do a fine job of responding to, “What’s the score of the [insert favorite team] game?” But Siri gets a bit more involved in the minutia. If you who the home run leader is this season, for example, Siri will tell you that Aaron Judge is the current home run leader while Assistant will give you a Wikipedia result of the all-time leaders. Both knew when the next Red Sox game was, but neither was able to tell us when the NBA Finals started (both did bring up the next game in the playoffs however). And Siri also knew that the French Open had started. – Michael Simon

siri assistant joke
Credit: IDG
"Tell me a joke"

Winner: Google Assistant (with a rimshot)

Siri and Assistant both want to be more than programmed chatbots, so each has its own personality and a sense of humor. So, both tell jokes. Or, more specifically, both tell bad jokes. Siri and Assistant will both happily oblige to a variety of queries (including simply saying “joke”), but Assistant’s were a bit more engaging. Siri tended to stick to one-liners, whole Assistant's jokes tended to be more question based. (Siri’s sense of humor is also a bit more iPhone-centric.) Additionally, you can say, “Tell me another,” or “One more” and Assistant will oblige, while Siri will need to be specifically told to tell another joke. – Michael Simon