As Apple fires the man responsible for Siri, Google has stepped up the competition by launching its own version of the personal assistant app for iOS on Tuesday.
Google’s Siri’ – known as Google Search 2.5 and already available for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean phones – comes in the form of an update to the existing Google Search application, introducing a voice recognition feature and the option for answer delivery in spoken voice.
Google says the app can respond to questions such as: “Is United Airlines flight 318 on time?” and will provide a short and sweet voice answer to such queries.
A list of clever-clogs features are also available through the app, for example, Google explains, if a user asks about latest James Bond movie trailer, it will start playing immediately on the device’s screen; if asking what a particular building looks like, pictures will come on-screen straight away.
The app is a direct competitor to Apple’s original Siri – which did not prove popular at all – given that it will operate on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Explaining the decision to launch the app on iOS, Google said in a blog post: “When you have a question, finding the answer should be effortless—wherever you are and whatever device you’re using.”
“The new Google Search app for iPhone and iPad helps you to do just that with enhanced voice search that answers any question with the comprehensive Google search results you know and love.”
The launch comes the day after Apple fired Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iOS Software amidst much media attention. The dismissal is widely believed to stem from Forstall’s refusal to sign a public letter of apology over bugs in the company’s maps application earlier this year.
However, Forstall has also been much criticised in relation to his pet project, Siri, as the app caused controversy and proved unpopular amongst users following the company’s hyperbolic build-up. Launching Siri in 2011, Apple told users: “Siri not only understands what you say, it knows what you mean. It figures out the right apps to use to find the right answer.”
To name but a few high-profile controversies, Apple was trapped in the media spotlight after it was revealed that Siri recommended a Nokia handset as opposed to Apple’s own products when asked what the best smartphone was. A few days later, the response had been changed to “wait… there are other smartphones?”
Siri also caused outrage in China, where the app happily doled out information as to the nearest brothels in a country where prostitution is illegal. Asked for locations to eat popular traditional Chinese dishes, however, Siri could not answer.
As such, Google launching its own version of the personal assistant provides a significant threat to Apple – particularly as it is available on iOS devices. Initial reports suggest that the app is quick and efficient, and available for download via iTunes, it will no doubt quickly steal a substantial following.