Siri Shows Increasing Promise, But Accuracy Falls Short of Google Text Searches

In what should not be a surprise given Siri's beta status and its use of new technology for voice interaction with mobile devices, a study from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster finds that Siri's abilities are still eclipsed by the traditional text-entry Google searches that have been in place for years.

The study included presenting Siri with 800 queries in each of two environments, a quiet room and a busy urban street, and then assessing Siri's ability to correctly interpret the queries and provide correct responses. Specifically addressing the outdoor testing, Munster notes:

While Google comprehends 100% of searches, Siri was only able to comprehend 83% of the prompted questions on a busy Minneapolis street. In terms of answer accuracy, Siri correctly answered 62% of queries on the street compared to Google's estimated 86% answer accuracy. Based on these results, we give Google an A+ for comprehension and a B+ for accuracy while we give Siri a B for comprehension and a D for accuracy.

But while Siri has some room for improvement, Munster acknowledges that the technology is only in its infancy and he remains "optimistic about its future" with an eye toward iOS 6 as bringing substantial improvements.

siri examples
Piper Jaffray's testing was conducted using the iPhone's built-in microphone in the quiet setting and Skullcandy microphone headphones for the outdoor setting, with Siri's ability to correctly comprehend queries falling from 89% to 83% when moving outdoors to the noisy urban setting. On the accuracy side, Google's 86% rating is derived from comScore data showing that Google generates 1.14 search result pages per search, suggesting that roughly 86% of time Google presents the data the user is looking for within the first few results.

Piper Jaffray also analyzed the sources for Siri's results, finding that Google provided 60% of the answers, with Yelp and other sources filling in the remainder.

Of queries excluding commands (i.e. call Jay, send text) Google would provide 60% of the answers, Yelp 20%, WolframAlpha 14%, Yahoo 4%, and Wikipedia 2%. Breaking down Siri's reliance further, Google provides 100% of navigation results, 61% of information results, 48% of commerce results and 42% of local results. Among other result aggregators, Yelp provided the most local results (51%) and commerce results (51%), while WolframAlpha provided 34% of information results.

Munster estimates that Google's share of Siri results will drop to 48% with the launch of iOS 6 as navigation, sports, and movie queries shift over to Apple and its new partners.

Top Rated Comments

HarryKeogh Avatar
154 months ago
I'm using Siri to post this message and, as you can see, it's 100% a cure writ and pancakes urethra.
Score: 115 Votes (Like | Disagree)
basesloaded190 Avatar
154 months ago
Siri is not on the same level as Google voice. Just saying.

What Google showed yesterday with offline support was very impressive, I agree.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ciclismo Avatar
154 months ago
I'm using Siri to post this message and, as you can see, it's 100% a cure writ and pancakes urethra.

Nominated for "Post of the Month" award.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bezetos Avatar
154 months ago

Google is just a dumb engine with no possible applications other than being a directory of the internet. They have never developed beyond coder style searches for specifics and their engineer backgrounds suggest they never will.
I think you've been living under a rock if you seriously believe in this...
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rockland Avatar
154 months ago
Siri is substandard

To me, there's no two ways about it. Uncharacteristically, Apple releases a "beta" product, repeatedly invoking that fact as if it were an excuse.

Which would be fine, if they charged a "beta-worthy" price for iPhone 4S.

Sorry, but it's been well over half a year, and Siri STILL underperforms. Badly.

In my experience and in all kinds of situations and environments, Siri works less than 50% of the time. More like a third of the time. I've pretty much given up on it.

We all love Apple, but to me it's hard not to state the obvious. Siri is (so far) a flop, in terms of living up to its profusely advertised promise. It is not even close to the usual high standards of Apple/SJ. And if he were alive now, I think he would be blowing a gasket about it.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SleeplessChaos Avatar
154 months ago
Fine, if you want to embarrass yourself...

On the accuracy side, Google's 86% rating is derived from comScore data showing that Google generates 1.14 search result pages per search, suggesting that roughly 86% of time Google presents the data the user is looking for within the first few results.

So this the point. Will you get information quicker using Siri or googling? So you've completely missed the point here.

It's not comparing two things at once. It is comparing how accurately you can get information using both tools. That's just one thing.

That would be biased. Secondly, read again: Google generates 1.14 search result pages per search, suggesting that roughly 86% of time Google presents the data the user is looking for within the first few results. So if you ask Siri "how tall is the empire state building", you'll get a precise answer from Siri (hopefuly) and find that information on the first page of Google results (actually, if you google that you'll now get an answer too). So this is what they're comparing. So again, you're completely missing the point.

And again, just go and read the article.

----------


Another person who missed the whole point of this research...

I'm wondering if we should check your reading comprehension guys...
I don't think he is missing the point of the experiment, I think that he, like me, thinks the point is stupid.

Think about it for more than a millisecond and you'll realize that it's comparing apples and oranges. Google, like every other text based search engine on the web, is simply matching text keywords with a large indexed database built by years of crawling through the web. The search is basically brute force and simple.

Siri is receiving a digital waveform from the microphone, eliminating frequencies from that waveform that are not commonly found in the human voice, translating those remaining frequencies into readable text via a remote server and then interpreting that into a command which it then uses to either search the web using what it assumes to be the correct web search service or perform a function using a local app. That service list includes google search.

The fact of the matter is that the two services are not comparable whatsoever and that for all intents and purposes siri expands upon the abilities of google regardless of the situation.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iOS NES Emulator Bimmy Feature

NES Emulator for iPhone and iPad Now Available on App Store [Removed]

Tuesday April 16, 2024 11:33 am PDT by
The first approved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for the iPhone and iPad was made available on the App Store today following Apple's rule change. The emulator is called Bimmy, and it was developed by Tom Salvo. On the App Store, Bimmy is described as a tool for testing and playing public domain/"homebrew" games created for the NES, but the app allows you to load ROMs for any...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
Delta Feature

Delta Game Emulator Now Available From App Store on iPhone

Wednesday April 17, 2024 9:58 am PDT by
Game emulator apps have come and gone since Apple announced App Store support for them on April 5, but now popular game emulator Delta from developer Riley Testut is available for download. Testut is known as the developer behind GBA4iOS, an open-source emulator that was available for a brief time more than a decade ago. GBA4iOS led to Delta, an emulator that has been available outside of...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
iPhone 15 Pro Action Button Translate

All iPhone 16 Models to Feature Action Button, But Usefulness Debated

Tuesday April 16, 2024 6:54 am PDT by
Last September, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro models debuted with a new customizable Action button, offering faster access to a handful of functions, as well as the ability to assign Shortcuts. Apple is poised to include the feature on all upcoming iPhone 16 models, so we asked iPhone 15 Pro users what their experience has been with the additional button so far. The Action button replaces the switch ...