As much as I love it when one company viciously pummels another company's product in a slickly-made advertising spot, I had to pause when I saw Motorola's attack ad on Siri the other day. In case you missed it, Motorola has now unleashed four of these flame-throwing videos, all of which show Android's Voice Actions on a Motorola phone sprinting past Siri on an iPhone 4S as they race to see who can complete four basic voice-activated tasks the fastest.
The Motorola phone, and Android Voice Actions, won each time, their victories met with the sustained cheers of a canned applause track that was, at best, lukewarm about the results (By the way: Seriously, Motorola? You just defeated the top-selling iPhone 4S in a head-to-head competition against its most prized feature! Can't you find a fainting lady sound effect, screaming cheerleaders, an Andrew W.K. guitar riff -- something to get the blood pumping a little bit??).
Anyway, because of all the disclaimers, fine print, and rampant accusations of video doctoring in the comments sections of tech blogs across the Internet, I decided to try replicating the Motorola vs. Siri ad word-for-word on my own Motorola and Apple phones.
The video below is the result. It was filmed in one take, and on the first take. Please excuse the slight rattling sound toward the middle of the test; I blew most of my production budget on hair and makeup.
One final disclaimer: I was unable to track down an Atrix 4G, so I was forced to use my Motorola Droid X instead. Please insert complaints about how this invalidates the test in the comments section below.
Also, for those who haven't seen the original advertisement, you can check it out below.
And now, away we go. Which is really faster: Android Voice Actions on the Motorola Droid X or Siri on the iPhone 4S?
I think the video, and the results therein, speak for themselves. Android's Voice Actions is simply much faster at processing, transcribing and enacting voice commands. The draw of Siri, of course, is that it attempts to understand natural language and can act on a wider variety of prompts than Voice Actions. For example, if you want to tell your Android phone to call Dorothy, you have to specifically say the words "Call Dorothy Foster." With Siri, you can say "Call Dorothy Foster" or "Can you call Dorothy Foster for me?" or "I need to talk to Dorothy Foster," and the iPhone will dial Dorothy's number for you.
I also did speed tests on the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the HTC Evo 4G, and all three easily outpaced the iPhone 4S. At this point, then, the choice between Siri and Android's Voice Actions seems like a trade-off between speed and functionality: Either memorize the commands and go really fast, or speak naturally and prepare to wait a little bit.