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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 30 July, 2014

Siri and Google Now on the meaning of life

(And other questions the Associated Press threw at them).

Image: sunrise image via Shutterstock

WITH GOOGLE’S VOICE assistant now available on iPhones and iPads, the Associated Press used an iPad Mini to throw five test questions at Google Now and Siri from its HQ in New York this week.

Here’s what the two digital assistants had to say for themselves:

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Question: What is the meaning of life?

Siri: “I can’t answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.” Siri has more than a dozen prepared responses to that question.

Google Now: The voice assistant was silent. Instead, keywords in that question triggered an ad for the Mormons on the top of the search results page. That was followed by links to a Wikipedia entry for “meaning of life” and other sites.

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Question: What is the weather like Friday?

Siri: “It should be nice Friday… up to 61 degrees and sunny.” Siri also presented a graphic with day-by-day conditions over the next six days, using information from Yahoo.

Google Now: “Friday’s forecast for New York, New York, is 64 degrees and clear.” Google then presented a box with day-by-day conditions over the next 10 days, as well as current conditions.

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Question: What movies are showing this weekend?

Siri: “I found five movies playing nearby on Friday.” Siri then presented a card with show times, parental ratings and favourability ratings from the Rotten Tomatoes website. Four of the movies were at art-house cinemas, as theatre chains hadn’t released weekend schedules yet. Links to buy or rent those movies on iTunes were offered when available.

Google Now: “Movies playing in New York on Friday.” Google then offered a page with times, descriptions and other information for 13 movies, including six IMAX movies playing at science museums in New York and Jersey City, N.J. As with Siri, most of the rest were at art-house cinemas.

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Question: How did the Mets do?

Siri: “The Mets lost to the Phillies yesterday. The final score was 5 to 1.” An inning-by-inning scoreboard was presented.

Google Now: “The Mets lost to the Phillies 5 to 1.” An inning-by-inning scoreboard was offered up.

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Question: Please set my alarm for seven.

Siri: “I’ve set an alarm for 7 am.” Siri assumed 7 the next morning rather than 7 that evening. Siri then showed a digital clock with a lever at “on,” which you can switch to “off.”

Google Now: The voice assistant was silent. Instead, search results appeared, including an article on “How to Use Siri’s Clock – For Dummies.”

VIDEO: Siri explains the meaning of life to John Malkovich>
11 Google products and services you never knew existed>

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