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Battle of the personal assistants: Apple vs Samsung vs Google vs LG

Tony Ibrahim | March 5, 2014
Google, Samsung and LG have followed in Apple's footsteps by launching voice-enabled personal assistants. We spent time with each personal assistant to identify which company has developed the strongest offering so far.

Siri by Apple
Wake up command: None

Apple's Siri has made headlines previously for its witty repartee, and it appears over time the personal assistant has grown in confidence and capabilities. We tested Siri on an iPhone 5S and an iPad Air, and found it generally outperformed most of its rivals. It delivered some of the most detailed information when it came to stock prices, biographies, and the locations of nearby restaurants and shops. It also excelled at drafting text messages, emails, reminders and setting alarms.

Siri made headlines a few years ago for generating web results that suggested Samsung made the best smartphone in the world. When we asked Siri who makes the best smartphone, the personal assistant hit back with a sarcastic 'seriously', as though any iPhone owner would be well aware of the answer.

Siri personalised the experience by relying on the functions the iPhone can perform — such as launching applications — rather than scouring the Web at every opportunity. To top it off, all of this was performed by an animated assistant. If any of the assistants have a face, it would be Siri.

There are a few areas in which Siri can be improved. When we asked Siri "who won the Oscar for Best Picture", it didn't retrieve news of 12 Years a Slave getting the gong. Instead it populated a list of previous best winners from Rotten Tomatoes' inventory. Over the years, Apple has decreased Siri's reliance on Google when it needs to generate answers. We feel this is one instance where Apple's pride comes at the user's expense.

Siri struggled with movies in general. When we asked the personal assistant what the session times for American Hustle and 12 years a slave were, it wouldn't search for cinemas beyond our suburb of North Sydney. Frankly, these are minor gripes that were quickly mended by asking Siri to launch the IMDb app.

Voice Mate by LG
Wake up command: LG Mobile

Testing Voice Mate on the LG G Flex revealed LG's personal assistant isn't as mature as its rivals. Think of Voice Mate as an interning university student rather than an executive assistant.

Whereas the other PAs are ready at the drop of a hat, Voice Mate suffers from some notable lag. It also struggles to compose emails and draft reminders.

There are times it is clumsy and limited, but overall this personal assistant has enough cheer and enthusiasm to overcome its shortcomings. Voice Mate doesn't retreat to the background once you use it for a search; instead a transparent widget remains present in case you'd like to use it again. This is a great innovation.


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