SAN FRANCISCO — Siri may be feeling a little job insecurity. The sometimes droll assistant that answers questions and helps people manage their lives on Apples 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.
Its the first time that Google Now has been available on smartphones and tablet computers that arent running on the latest version of Googles Android software. The technology, which debuted nine months ago, is included in an upgrade to Googles search application for iOS, the Apple software that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Its up to each user to decide whether to activate Google Now within the redesigned Google Search app, which is available through Apples app store.
Siri tried to dismiss the competitive threat. When asked for an opinion about Google Now, Siri responded: If its all the same to you, Id rather Google later.
Some iPhone users even those who have grown fond of Siri welcomed Google Nows 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 Nows location-tracking features draining a devices battery more quickly.
Luring iPhone, iPad users
Google Nows invasion of Siris turf marks Googles 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. Apples maps application proved to be inferior to Googles ousted service. The apps 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 technologys 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 users preferences and then provide helpful information before its even asked to do so. The technology draws upon information that Google gleans from search requests other interactions with the companys other services.