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We tested Apple's Siri versus Google's new competitor on the iPhone, and Siri loses pretty miserably

Key Points
  • We put Siri vs the new Google Assistant on iPhone head-to-head.
  • Siri is good, but Google Assistant is much more intelligent.
  • See how the two stack up in our video and side-by-side comparisons below.
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Apple's Siri vs. Google Assistant: We picked a clear winner

Google recently launched its version of Siri, named Google Assistant, on the iPhone.

We've found it to be much smarter than Siri and, to prove it, we recently put it head-to-head with Apple's assistant. We asked Google Assistant and Siri the same questions to give you an idea of what you can expect from both.

Each of the commands below was asked to both assistants. Take a look at how each responded.

"How do you say "I'd like a glass of white wine?" in Spanish?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Google

Why: Google provided the correct answer and even spoke it to me. Siri only tried to provide Bing search results.

"How long will it take me to get home?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Tie

Why: Both correctly provided a reasonable estimate for me to get home in traffic. I like that Google has one-tap access to directions and a peek at the map, too. I'd give Google a win but Siri got the question I asked right and I like to think I'm a reasonable man.

"Where's the nearest gas station?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Google

Why: Google and Siri both showed nearby gas stations, but Google's answer was closer at 0.4 miles away. Google also let me dig deeper. I'm able to continue my conversation with the assistant to see how much gas currently costs, learn more about Exxon as a company, the phone number and more.

"Play a Metallica music video on YouTube"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Google

Why: Google navigated to a Metallica video on YouTube but didn't play it. If I was at home, I could have used Google Assistant to play a video right on my Chromecast-enabled TV. Siri wasn't able to comply with the request.

"Text my wife that I'm running late to brunch."

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Siri

Why: Siri knew my wife's name in my phonebook while Google wasn't able to pick out that detail. I could have changed the contact name to wife, which probably would have created a tie, but Siri wins this one fair and square.

"What's Tesla's market cap?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Double fail

Why: I double checked this one with the editors on the finance team. Siri was closer to Tesla's $51.6 billion market cap, though both technically provided incorrect answers. I like that Google offers to provide other information, while Siri provides a useful stock price trend, but neither gave me what I needed.

"Who won the Yankees game?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Google

Why: I give credit to Siri for providing the run breakdown by inning, but Google takes the round. Google let me dig deeper to see a highlight video of the game on YouTube, check out MLB standings, the MLB schedule, Yankees news, MLB news and more. The Yankees won, by the way.

"How tall is the Golden Gate bridge?"

CNBC Tech: Siri v Google 3
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Google

Why: Google told me the height of the Golden Gate bridge (746 feet). Siri provided me with the clearance below it, which wasn't what I was asking for. Google also provided one-tap access to information on tolls, the address, historical information and more.

"Turn on my bedroom lights"

Winner: Tie

Why: Simple enough. Both were effective at turning on two Philips Hue light bulbs in my bedroom at home, even though I was standing in the office.

"Show me my pictures of Seattle"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Winner: Tie

Why: Siri showed me pictures of Seattle in my Apple Photos album on my phone. Google Assistant showed me the pictures I snapped that are stored in Google Photos.

And the winner is...

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google is the clear winner here.

Not only was it more accurate, it also presented new options that allowed me to dig deeper into every topic.

There are a couple other things to note, too.

  • Apple locks down iOS, so you can't just launch right into Google Now like you can by saying "Hey Siri," but it's worth the effort of opening the app. Plus, you can add a widget to Google, so the assistant is always just one swipe away.
  • You can use Siri to launch apps or do things like silence your phone -- things you can't do with Google Assistant -- but I've never used Siri in that manner. I think those functions are helpful but not really a measurement of a machine's intelligence.
  • Google Assistant also lets you type in queries, so you don't have to speak out in public if you don't want to, and you can make sure every query is dead-accurate. Siri doesn't have that option yet.
  • You can't launch third-party music services from either Siri or the Google Assistant on iPhone, because Apple limits that integration to its own Apple Music service. That may come as a surprise to anybody who's used the Google product on Android phones, which aren't locked down in this way.

But overall, these tests allowed us to dig into the smarts of the AI on an iPhone, and Google Assistant came out the clear winner.

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