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Google Beats Apple Siri, But Who Uses Voice Search Anyway?


We wrote a story here about how Google’s voice search function beats the one from Apple called Siri. The story was widely picked up and even reproduced elsewhere using the sincerest form of flattery. What baffles me about the interest is that I have yet to see absolutely anyone use voice search… well, other than Samuel L Jackson.

I have two friends that are Apple diehards. To even question a something that Apple might do, has done, or could be capable of, is to risk life and limb in front of Mike or Frank. However, even these two walking, talking billboards for the world’s greatest marketing organization do not use Siri. As for Google having a better voice search, that is interesting considering I was not aware that the function even existed. I dimly recall T-Mobile having some green microphone icon that was supposed to be helpful. I tried it once, it sucked and felt silly to use.

I challenge anyone to tell me that they have seen someone talking to their phone (as opposed to a person on the phone) asking for directions or help. I am told the point is to use it in a car but I cannot recall ever seeing anyone use it there either.

My second challenge is to either or both Google and Apple to tell us just how much search is used via voice. To get some idea of voice search popularity, I did some text-based searching this morning and found this article from ars technica that also asked if anyone uses voice search. ars technica’s poll was done back in March 2012, and I took a screen shot of the results.

Ars Technica Voice Search Poll. Source: ars technica
Ars Technica Voice Search Poll

This shows that as of today, fewer than 23% of participants like and use it. Add in others that use it but are not quite happy and you get a whopping 51%. I am deeply suspicious of these results, because if half of all iPhone users are asking their phone for help out loud then I am pretty sure I would have seen at least one of them do it at some point. Is there some sort of secret, bathroom, style behavior that goes along with voice search?

It is not like I do not travel or get out much. I am hardly ever home and all around me, my friends and colleagues are using their phones to check in, look up, work out, play about or even occasionally call someone. What absolutely none of them have ever done is to use voice search for anything at all.

Mashable had a take on this subject as well. In a piece entitled ‘Why would anyone ever use Siri? This is why.‘, the author Rebecca J Rosen does a good job at stating why it might be popular. She does not however mention whether or not she uses the service herself.

My guess is that both Google and Apple want us to use voice search as it gives them even more information about us and gets us to use search even more. It is just another extension of what they already do so well, but not every piece of technology that comes along is actually good or helpful. The fact is, that standing around, talking to your phone as opposed to someone on the other end of it just feels weird. I must confess that I have used Siri myself once before, for fun, to see if it worked. It did work and it was amusing. Then I put the phone down and went back to using it as normal.

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