“Siri is the better of the two — as a voice assistant. She’ll always respond with something, even if it’s to seek clarification. Google Now will often remain silent, sometimes giving you no more than a list of websites…Google Now shines is in anticipating your questions. Open the Google Search app, and you’ll see cards fill the screen with useful information.
In Orlando, Google Now continually offered directions to nearby breweries, possibly because I had searched Google for information on tours. I got information on a co-worker’s flight from Las Vegas because he had shared his Google calendar with me. And because I had searched for Flowers Foods for a story just before my trip, Google Now offered me directions to the baking company’s headquarters in Georgia when I was about a half-hour away.”
As an iPhone user, I’ve only played with Google Now for a few days. But it only took me that long to fall in love. The cards feel like what Apple’s Passbook could have been: always useful, instead of occasionally useful. In fact, I’m enjoying Now so much I’m considering moving all of my calendar events over to Google.
Last year I explained how to create and edit notes with Siri on the iPhone. To create a new note, tell Siri, “Create a new note,” “Make a new note” or something similar. You can give a note a title at the same time, for instance, “Make a new note packing list” or “Create a new note places to visit.” That becomes the first line of the note. To update a note say, for example, “Update my note toothbrush, deodorant, book, tickets, camera.” If you’ve got more than one note, Siri will ask which note you’d like updated by providing a list.
That’s great, but you can also search notes just as easily. Here’s how.
1. Search by date. Activate Siri and say, “Find notes from March, 2013″ or “Find notes from March 7, 2013.” You can also ask, “Find notes from yesterday.”
2. Search by keyword. You can have Siri search your notes for a specific word by saying, “Search notes for ‘x’”, where “x” is the term you’re looking for. Siri returns the results as a tap-able list.
You can also ask Siri to list all your notes. This is much faster than using Apple’s Notes app manually.
“Depending on how I asked ‘What is the best smartphone?’- I got either ‘You’re kidding, right?’ or ‘You’re holding it.’”
That post is date stamped October 17, 2011. Here’s another one, posted to YouTube on November, 2011, just one month after the iPhone 4S’s release. Perhaps CNET defines “yesterday” as “seven months ago.”
Apple has given Siri a sense of humor because it humanizes the service and helps users feel like less of a tool while conversing with an inanimate object. It was a very clever move. Apple did not, in any way, “rig” Siri to name iPhone the best phone. If CNET or Nokia believe that Apple is afraid of losing iPhone sales to loose-lipped Siri, I have a bridge in New York that’s for sale.
TNW asked Siri, the voice-controled, virtual assistant that ships with the iPhone 4S, “What is the best smartphone ever?” Siri then queried Wolfram Alpha as it often does and returned the results: Nokia’s Lumia 900. TNW then concludes:
“When you break out your iPhone 4S and ask Siri what the ‘best smartphone ever’ is, your humble virtual assistant will recommend you to buy Nokia’s Lumia 900.”
Wait, that’s not the question Siri was asked. TNW said, “What is the best smartphone ever?” not “Which smartphone should I buy?” So I did. Here was the result:
Notes is the no-frills note-taking app that ships with the iPhone. It’s not fancy, but it does its job well. I don’t use it, because I believe I can create a note faster with an actual notebook and a pen. Tapping the voice dictation button speeds up the process, but not enough to satisfy me. However, I found that I can create, update and list notes with Siri. In fact, Siri is even smart enough to know which note you’re talking about. Here’s how to create and maintain notes with Siri.
To create a new note, tell Siri, “Create a new note,” “Make a new note” or something similar. You can give a note a title at the same time, for instance, “Make a new note packing list” or “Create a new note places to visit.” That becomes the first line of the note.
Updating a note is easy. Simply say, for example, “Update my note toothbrush, deodorant, book, tickets, camera.” If you’ve got more than one note, Siri will ask which note you’d like updated by providing a list. Either tap the one you want to update or speak its name (the first line). If you know exactly which note you’d like updated, let Siri know. “Update my note packing list charger mouse.” Finally, get a quick look at your notes by asking Siri to list your notes.
It’s not perfect. Siri cannot delete a note or share a note via email, etc. But it’s still pretty useful, gets synced with Mail and is fast. Hitting the Home button and saying, “New note hotel room number 237″ is pretty darn quick. Try it out.
Simply launch Siri and ask, “Wolfram planes overhead.” It will use your phone’s GPS location and Wolfram’s flight path trajectory data to identify planes in your area. You’ll receive each flight’s speed, heading, and altitude (with a five-minute delay) from the Federal Aviation Commission‘s real-time trajectory data, as well as airplane type and slant distance, which is the exact angle between your iPhone and the plane. Finally, a sky map provides a visual overview.
There’s more. Ask Siri, “Wolfram flights overhead” to see details from the various airlines as well as a sky map (below).
Need to pick someone up at the airport? Now you know exactly — and I mean exactly — where their plane is.
Here’s a great new iPhone 4S ad that features Siri. A young couple embarks on a cross-country adventure in a gorgeous Vovlo 240 wagon with Siri as their guide. As usual, it’s heartwarming and endearing.
In the second ad, a young guy experiences the thrill of his first garage band. It reminds me of the time I spent doing the same thing in high school.
Apple’s not selling iPhones here, it’s selling that feeling you get when you hear the last request in each spot. Well done.