Watch out Siri. Google updated its Google Search app for iOS Tuesday, and the app now features a robust, intuitive voice search functionality that gives Apple’s integrated digital companion a run for its money.
Where Siri’s strengths lie in providing quick, direct access to select categories of information (things like movies, sports, weather, and business information, for example) and in letting users dictate messages and status updates, the voice search in Google Search sticks to search. But, this being Google, that means all types of search. With Google’s knowledge graph, you can pull up direct results for questions like “What’s the time in China?” or “What’s the population of New York?” Google also ties into its vast stores of photo and video data. Ask “What does the Golden Gate Bridge look like?” and the app will pull up images of the bridge.
You can even ask for directions and get a map showing the route and estimated travel time. You can then tap to get the full list of directions from the Google Maps web app.
For other types of searches, like “What movies has Brad Pitt been in?” Google Search brings up traditional search results, including listings from IMDB and Wikipedia. (In my brief test, Siri won this matchup, delivering a list of Pitt’s 25 most recent films, sourced from Rotten Tomatoes.)
The app’s ability to interpret spoken text was at least as good as Siri’s, if not slightly better. It struggled to distinguish between “has” and “is” in my test, but even when it misheard me, it still turned up the correct search results.
However, if you’re in love with Siri’s voice responses, you might find this app missing. Here all results come in Google’s familiar list format; they’re not read back to you.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, the app is available now, for free.