In the run-up to the official release of iOS 11 this month, much of Apple's focus has been on touted improvements coming to its built-in virtual assistant, Siri. Apart from becoming more naturally spoken, Siri will allow users to get real-time translation between select languages and is said to boast a greater understanding of the user's needs dependent on circumstance and time of day, with the AI assistant's learning synced across devices.

Apple is hoping these and other improvements will go some way to quashing negative perceptions of Siri, which have led some iOS users to turn to rival assistants for a better experience. One of those rivals is Google Assistant, which as well as powering Google's Pixel smartphones is integrated into Google's iOS Search app. In general tests, Google Assistant consistently beats Siri in areas including language comprehension, responsiveness, and answer accuracy. But like Apple, Google's AI team is not resting on its laurels, and this week at Google Developer Days, the company demoed some of the new features it is working to bring to its flagship assistant in the near future.

google assistant ios
Like Siri, one of the major additions coming to Google Assistant is a new translator mode, which once activated by the user with the phrase "OK Google, be my [specify language] translator", repeats everything that is subsequently said in the requested language both vocally and visually. While standard translation as such isn't new to Google Assistant, the new way of interacting with it is designed to be more useful when users are traveling abroad.

Another improvement coming to the virtual AI is better contextual understanding of questions. For example, in the GDD stage demonstration, Google Assistant is first asked to show pictures of Thomas, and the AI returns images of Thomas the Tank Engine. Next, responding to the phrase "Bayern Munich team roster", the Assistant returns details of the German soccer team. Then it is once more asked for "pictures of Thomas", but this time the Assistant pulls up pictures of Bayern soccer player Thomas Müller, putting the results correctly in context to the rolling set of queries.

In a subsequent example, the audience is shown how Google Assistant can help them remember the name of a movie that's on the tip of their tongue. The stage demonstrator asks, "What is the name of the movie where Tom Cruise acts in it and he plays pool and while he plays pool he dances". With little hesitation, The Color of Money appears on the screen and the Assistant relates further details about the film.


In addition to these new features, Google said its virtual assistant can now respond to questions faster and is able to understand a user's voice more accurately in noisy environments. It also claimed that the AI now has deeper integration with Google Search, which should enable it to provide more detailed answers to queries.

It's unclear which of these enhancements will make it over to Google's iOS Search app, or whether the company makes some of the features exclusive to Android. Whatever its plans, the GDD demonstrations show just how much the virtual assistant wars are hotting up. And with Google Assistant now showing up in third-party smart speaker devices, there's every indication that Siri in iOS 11 – and in Apple's upcoming HomePod speaker – will have plenty of competition in the virtual assistant space.

Related Forum: iOS 11

Top Rated Comments

GadgetBen Avatar
54 months ago
Siri hasn’t improved and constantly frustrates me to the point where I only use it to set reminders. Even then it gets some of the details wrong.

I have no desire to ask Siri about anything complex if it can’t complete simple tasks accurately.

It’s disappointing that Apple have failed to improve this technology and failed to announce any improvements to Siri when they revealed HomePod. Especially as HomePod will almost certainly rely solely on voice commands.

I’m hoping they announce ‘Siri 2’ on Tuesday.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1applerules1 Avatar
54 months ago
It doesn't take much to rival Siri tbh
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macfacts Avatar
54 months ago
Siri will still win out ultimately because of their integration with iOS. It’s going to be siri which schedules my calendar events and sets my alarms and reminders. watchOS 4 will even bring Siri to my Apple Watch screen front and centre.

Google may have the better service, but you still can’t beat Apple in terms of ecosystem lock.
So because iOS doesn't allow "default apps", Siri is more integrated with the OS. Surprise surprise.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
timmyc Avatar
54 months ago
Title should read Siri improvements set to rival Google voice recognition technology
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ds6778 Avatar
54 months ago
It's disappointing to see that Siri is still so far behind. Hopefully iOS 12 fixes that. Google is probably 2-3 years ahead of Apple.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nozuka Avatar
54 months ago
i gave Siri another chance with iOS11 yesterday. sadly it's still terrible.
while she was very good at hearing what i was saying (everything i said was correctly written on the screen), she didn't understand anything i asked correctly.

even asking her to play the newest album of artist XY is too much of a task for her... (well at least she started to play music from that artist randomly) and that was the only tasked she almost managed to do.

Siri is no good if i have to learn which phrases she understands first.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
tim cook spring loaded event

Gurman: Apple Planning Multiple Events for the Fall, M1X MacBook Pros to be Available by November

Sunday August 15, 2021 12:07 pm PDT by
Apple is planning to hold multiple events this fall, which will collectively include the launch of new iPhones, Apple Watches, updated AirPods, revamped iPad mini, and the redesigned MacBook Pros, according to respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In his latest weekly Power On newsletter, Gurman says that much like last year, Apple will hold multiple events this coming fall, with the...
apple screen time screen icons

Persistent Kids Finding Loopholes in Apple's Screen Time Limits

Tuesday October 15, 2019 9:44 am PDT by
Apple is currently engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with persistent kids looking to circumvent Screen Time restrictions, but the company has been receiving some criticism for not moving quickly enough to lock down some of the loopholes, reports The Washington Post. A few of the loopholes and ways for parents to shut them down are documented on the site Protect Young Eyes, while these and...
anker lightning cable mfi

Unwrap a New Apple Device? Stock Up on Extra Certified Lightning Cables for as Little as $6

Monday December 25, 2017 5:45 am PST by
If you unwrapped an Apple product today it likely came with one of the company's first-party Lightning cables, but having an extra on hand is always a good idea, so you can place it in other rooms in your house, in your car, or in a bag when you travel. For that reason, now's a good time to shop for third-party Lightning cables that are cheaper than Apple's own accessory, but still Made For...
personal hotspot 1

Apple Acknowledges Personal Hotspot Issues Affecting Some iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Users

Saturday March 21, 2020 10:04 am PDT by
In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged that some iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 users may experience issues with Personal Hotspot. Apple has told Authorized Service Providers to expect customers who are unable to connect to a Personal Hotspot or experience frequent disconnection from one. Customers may also...
macos monterey safari beta 3

macOS Monterey Beta 3: Apple Redesigns Safari Tab Interface Following Complaints

Wednesday July 14, 2021 11:39 am PDT by
In the third developer beta of macOS Monterey, which came out this morning, Apple has overhauled the design of Safari, making the tab bar more similar to the current tab bar in macOS Big Sur. The prior Safari design did away with the dedicated URL and search interface, instead allowing any individual tab to be used for navigation input. Tabs were also all arranged at the top of the display...