Siri vs. Galaxy: Which virtual assistant does a better job?

 

My boyfriend has the Samsung Galaxy SIII, so a few weeks ago he let me compare his phone’s voice assistant for a future blog post. Galaxy, to the iPhone’s assistant, Siri. I ran a few tests on each to see how they fared compared to each other, wondering if there were any real differences on how “smart” these smartphone virtual assistants really are.

 

Movie showtimes: Siri took me right to the showtimes at the nearest theater when I asked for the movie showtimes of “Silent Hill: Revelation” that night. Galaxy asked if I would like to do a Web search for the showtimes. Winner: Clearly Siri.

Movie ratings and reviews: Curious as to whether movie critics rated “Silent Hill: Revelation” highly or poorly, I asked both virtual assistants how good the movie was. Galaxy replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the answer. Would you like me to search the Web?” Siri, on the other hand, gave me the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ ratings. Winner: Siri.

App launching: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to open the CNN app for me. They both launched the app right away. Winner: Tie.4

Voice-to-text translation: I asked both virtual assistants to write a text message for me to see if one was less “smart” when it came to accurate translation. They both accurately translated what I wanted to say in a message that was ready to send via text. Winner: Tie.

Facebook posting: I asked both Siri and Galaxy to write a Facebook status for me. Siri immediately composed my status for me and asked if I was ready to post it. Galaxy required permissions from the S Voice app before it could post my status, which was a bit annoying. Winner: Siri.

Simple facts: I know that Siri pulls from Wolfram Alpha for facts, such as presidents and ages of celebrities, but I wasn’t sure how well Galaxy performed with this. So I asked both a random question (“Who was the 40th president?”) and they both answered promptly, pulling information from Wolfram Alpha.

Sports scores: Since sports scores is a new thing Siri can look up, I wondered if Galaxy was up to speed yet. Turns out “she” wasn’t and asked if I wanted “her” to perform a Web search. Siri, on the other hand, gave me the direct score of team I had asked about from the previous weekend’s game.

Weather forecast: When I asked Galaxy about the weather that day, “she” gave me the overall forecast for the day with the lows and highs, along with the current temperature. Siri not only gave me the current temperature, but also the hourly forecast. Siri also answered in a quirky way,” Don’t forget your rain coat.” Winner: Siri. Because who does not love being told by their phone to not forget their rain gear, with the added bonus of a close look at the next few hours.

Response time: When I was doing my tests, I noticed that Galaxy seemed slow on certain tasks. So, I asked both assistants to open an app for me at the same time. It only took Siri a few quick seconds, while there was a definite lag in response from Galaxy.

 

Overall winner: Siri. The Samsung Galaxy SIII may be the iPhone’s stiff competition, but its virtual assistant does not compare to Siri’s speed, abilities, and wit.

 

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iOS 6: The best thing to come to the iPhone

In Wednesday’s post, I briefly mentioned iOS 6, the newest operating system on the iPhone. Well, after updating to iOS 6 Wednesday night and exploring the changes since, I thought I would review iOS 6 for those of you who have just updated to it, haven’t gotten around to updating to it yet, or for others who are debating getting an iPhone.

First of all, if you have an iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, or an iPhone 3GS, and haven’t updated to iOS 6 yet, I recommend you do it through iTunes on your computer. The update is fairly quick on the computer versus the slower speeds one may encounter by trying to update directly on their phone via a Wi-Fi network. All you have to do is make sure you update your iTunes to the latest version, restart your computer, hook up your phone adapter to your USB port to sync your phone and it will start the update process. The update shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes.

The first new feature I had heard about and checked out right away was the new Facebook integration. Right in your settings below Twitter will be the new Facebook settings option. From there, you can choose to have your Facebook events and birthdays integrated through your regular calendar app. Your Facebook friends’ birthdays will now appear in your notifications bar and within your calendar app, so you never forget a birthday.

The Facebook photo integration is one of the best new features, in my opinion. Before I bought my iPhone, I had an Android phone from the Samsung Galaxy line. It would let me upload my pictures directly from the picture itself. When I got my iPhone, I saw that I no longer had that option and was disappointed. Now, you can take a picture, go to the picture you want to upload, and upload that picture directly to Facebook from the options button. This is a feature that has probably been long-awaited on the iPhone. Another handy feature of the new Facebook integration is the new option to post a status directly from the pull-down notifications bar. You can also now send a tweet directly from the notifications bar.

 

This is the new options menu for photos, which now includes the option to upload photos directly to Facebook, instead of having to open the Facebook app and upload photos.

 

Another significant change in iOS 6 is the major improvements to Siri. Siri now can do a lot more things than she used to be able to do, including giving you sports scores, telling you who are the main actors in a movie, giving you movie showtimes and movie reviews, opening apps for you, and more. She also will post statuses to Facebook for you and send tweets to Twitter. Siri is still in the Beta stage, so she may not post what you want on the first try, as I have discovered. It took me three tries for her to accurately write what I wanted her to post on my Facebook. It helps if you speak slowly and loudly to ensure that she will correctly interpret what you want posted on hopefully the first try. Regardless, I find it pretty cool that Siri can now post Facebook statuses. She’s becoming a much better virtual assistant.

 

Siri now will give you reviews of a movie you are interested in seeing, which is very handy if you would rather not dig through your IMDb or Flixster apps to see if a movie is worth watching.

 

Another change worth mentioning that I have found handy is the new “Do Not Disturb” option in settings right above the notifications settings. Probably most of you leave your phone on at night after you make sure that it is turned on silent. But that still doesn’t stop your phone from lighting up in the middle of the night due to notifications. If you are like me, you have been almost asleep but you sense a light in the room and look over to see your phone lit up. You reach for your phone, wondering if someone texted you, when you should just be going to sleep and not worrying about your phone until you wake up.

You can now set “quiet hours” during which you do not want to be disturbed, such as from 1 a.m. until 9 a.m. Your phone will then not light up to notify you of any calls, missed texts or other notifications during that time. Also, if you are afraid of missing an important call from a family member, just make sure you have people whose calls you cannot afford to miss listed as favorites in your contacts. Then all you need to do is select the “Allow Calls From” option and set it for “Favorites.”

 

Thanks to the new “Do Not Disturb” option, I will no longer be bothered by my phone lighting up in the middle of the night, even if I forgot to put my phone on silent.

 

There are many more new changes in iOS 6, but the last important one I will highlight is the new “Reply With Message” option. We have probably all been in a situation where someone calls but we don’t have the time to talk and may have either let the call go to voicemail or declined the call. Now you can be more polite about it with the option to respond to the call with a simple text such as, “I’m busy right now, but I’ll call you back later.” You can also set a reminder right on the incoming call to remind yourself to actually call that person back, instead of forgetting to call them back.

 

These are the three default messages I have created to reply to an incoming call with if I am busy at the moment

For the list of the rest of the new iOS 6 features, go to http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/. If you have downloaded iOS 6, what are your favorite features? Where do you think there could still be room for improvement in the next iOS? Feel free to leave your comments!