April 16, 2010

Just saying: Android voice control > Apple’s

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Written by: Brian Duggan

It’s always nice to have an iPhone owner salivating over your Android phone. I got to experience that today when having a conversation with a buddy of mine who owns an iPhone. We got to talking about the voice control on our respective devices. Me, I’m usually impressed by the accuracy of my Droid Eris and the ability to speak my text messages. His description of his experience wasn’t very positive.

Here’s what he had to say:

“I hope the Voice Control on iPhone is vastly improved. it’s pure shit. I asked ‘Play Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ it said ‘Playing songs by Everclear’. I hate it times a million. ‘Call mom’ – “Calling Aunt Sissy” …anyway, scew you and your speak n type.”

There are other examples of Apple’s voice control disappointment. Via Cult of Mac:

And, surprising no one, the voice program is the only one of the three that isn’t ready for prime time. Why? Because voice recognition programs suck. Based on the challenges facing the 3GS, a truly foolproof voice interface is about as close to arriving as a mind-power interface. Having never owned a Newton, I have the distinct pleasure of playing with an advanced Apple technology that really doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s almost exciting!

And About.com compiled a series of bummed out iPhone users, including this dude with less-than-stellar musical choices:

“say play metallica it plays trapt vise versa.Expensive junk feature”

— Guest frank

About the Author

Brian Duggan
A business reporter in Carson City, Nev., which is near Reno. Verizon user and droid freak.


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  1. Jason Wentworth

    The key to the iPhone voice control is knowing the commands. If you say “play artist” or “play album” before saying the artist or album, it’s significantly more accurate.

    Could it be better? Sure, but it’s not that bad.

  2. This is so true. On the Nexus One, there’s a microphone icon that is embedded in the keyboard. This makes speech recognition a primary function of the phone as opposed to the afterthought that it is on the iPhone 3GS. If this is an important feature to you, pick up an Android phone asap. You will be amazed. About 95-98% correct on average IMHO.

  3. Brookie

    As an iPhone user, I rarely see the need to use my voice controls. When I do fancy it, however, they always tend to work pretty well for me. Sure they’re not 100% accurate, but they work… and i’m British, by the way. I use it to phone numbers verbatim and call friends. If i’m playing music in the car i’d like to be able to use it, but the background noise is often too great unless I use my Jawbone.

    Obviously the google way is far superior. These technologies rely, I think, on gathering information from the cloud about what other people are saying and then can use their results to correct itself. It’s massively clever, It has to be said.

    The text messaging accuracy sounds insanely good- and google definitely has a one-up there. Just as it has a one-up on the navigation side of things. Built in awesome navigation with voice controls in a setting you might actually use them? Now that’s cool.

    However; I can’t be the only one doesn’t use voice recognition simply because you’re either busy with other things, which means you’re in public most of the time, which means you’d look like an idiot talking to your phone, or you’re somewhere which is too loud for any microphone to be able to interpret what you’re saying.

    It’s one of those great ideas with KILLER application, but which I don’t think is ever going to be fully utilised because we live in a world that doesn’t want to hear you speaking to your telephone.

  4. Jacqui

    I’m still trying to decide between the two, I have partial facial palsy so am wondering if the android would be better for me.

    The facial paralysis is slight but does affect me speech, not very badly but people do hear it on the phone if I’m tired. Anyone have any experience of this that would weigh to one phone or the other?

  5. John

    Love the iPhone but the voice control is useless.

  6. At Brookie

    Funny to find the day that we think of people as ‘looking like an idiot for talking to their phone’.

  7. Chris Lee

    I am an Apple Fanboy, and I have to say the old V3 RAZR had better voice control.

  8. Emily

    The iPhone’s voice control always works well for me. I use it as my primary mode of dialing when making phone calls… so much so that I barely know my way around the keypad and phone menus.

  9. MoonSpoon

    This would be relevant if Nuance did not distribute Dragon Dictate for free on the iPhone.
    And Vlingo is available for the iPhone too.



    None of these seem to be available for Android.

  10. @MoonSpoon,
    The Nexus One doesn’t need Dragon because the phone sends voice to Google where a cluster of computers works on the problem and “votes” on the solution. Amazingly fast. Amazingly accurate. It’s always improving (due to the massive amount of data it handles) and the same decision-making technology is used by Google all over the place. It’s a close to AI as we’ve got these days.

    No phone app can compete.

  11. Google Voice Search is not quite the same as Apple’s Voice Control.

    Voice Search is all run on the back-end servers, slowing things a little, but affording great high-level concepts of language and subject matter to be employed. This renders is far superior at transcription than any embedded recognition program will be. It does not, however, make it very good for quickly dialing a number or playing a musical selection — the domain of Apple’s Voice Control.

  12. iGav

    And of course, the google voice control means that everything you say to your phone is sent back to the Googleplex where they can monitor and record your every move on the web, every tune you play, every number you dial – to me that’s just too creepy for words

    Sorry, I just don’t trust Google’s motives – how long will people go on trusting them?

  13. My android’s voice command sucks ass.
    No end-user-meaningful improvement on voice detection has been felt in the past 10 years

  14. John

    I just moved from 3gs iOS4 to HTC desire 2.2 and found Android voice control superior in all respects except for playing music. 3gs only found correct music sometimes but I can’t find any way to voice activate music on Android. From what I’ve read it seems the feature has just been implemented but not yet made its way to the outside world. When it comes I expect it to beat iOS as the accuracy of Android voice recognition has amazed me.

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