Google invades Siri's turf with iPhone, iPad app

Associated PressApril 29, 2013 

— Siri may be feeling a little job insecurity. The sometimes droll assistant that answers questions and helps people manage their lives on Apple’s iPhone and iPad is facing competition from an up-and-coming rival made by Google.

The duel began Monday with the release of a free iPhone and iPad app that features Google Now, a technology that performs many of the same functions as Siri.

It’s the first time that Google Now has been available on smartphones and tablet computers that aren’t running on the latest version of Google’s Android software. The technology, which debuted nine months ago, is included in an upgrade to Google’s search application for iOS, the Apple software that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It’s up to each user to decide whether to activate Google Now within the redesigned Google Search app, which is available through Apple’s app store.

Siri tried to dismiss the competitive threat. When asked for an opinion about Google Now, Siri responded: “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather Google later.”

Some iPhone users – even those who have grown fond of Siri – welcomed Google Now’s arrival to iOS in mostly enthusiastic and sometimes amusing remarks posted on Twitter and Google Plus. The biggest gripe was about the possibility of Google Now’s location-tracking features draining a device’s battery more quickly.

Luring iPhone, iPad users

Google Now’s invasion of Siri’s turf marks Google’s latest attempt to lure iPhone and iPad users away from a service that Apple built into its own devices.

Google won over millions of iPhone users in December when it released a mapping application to replace the navigation system that Apple dumped when it redesigned iOS last fall. Apple’s maps application proved to be inferior to Google’s ousted service. The app’s bugs and glitches made Apple the butt of jokes and fueled demand for Google to develop a new option.

Siri is billed by Apple as an “intelligent feature.” Since the technology’s release in October 2011, Apple has made it a centerpiece of some marketing campaigns that depict Siri and its automated female voice as an endearing and occasionally even pithy companion.

Google believes its Siri counterpart is smarter because Google Now is designed to learn about a user’s preferences and then provide helpful information before it’s even asked to do so. The technology draws upon information that Google gleans from search requests other interactions with the company’s other services.

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