Weekly Poll: Voice Actions, Siri, or None of the Above?

Today, Joe Casabona argued Google missed with Voice Actions, and Connor Turnbull said, “Siri’s an interface, voice actions are a proxy“.

Both authors highlight an important difference between Android’s Voice Actions and iOS’s Siri (aside from the marketing): Voice Actions works like a command line or keyboard shortcut, while Siri aims to be a natural language computer assistant.

It reminds me of Yahoo Search vs. Ask Jeeves back in the early 2000s; so-called “natural language” recognition may be more elegant and impressive and capable of constructing complex queries, but it’s far from natural – the natural way to inquire about something is to point at it and grunt. This could be why keyword-based search engines have typically been way more popular and useful. Want food? Search [food].

I’ve been enjoying playing with Vlingo in the past week, grunting commands like “play music”, “call Bob”, “search killer whale length”. This, to me, is much more comfortable than asking “How long is the average killer whale?”

I’m not trying to knock Siri – I don’t even have an iPhone so I can hardly give it a fair evaluation, and I believe it can cope with “grunt” commands as well – I’m just making the point that I’m happy happy with voice commands, without the need for full natural language processing.

What about you?


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