This Latest Google Now Ad Has Me Hating Siri


Google’s ad campaigns haven’t always been the best. Remember that silly Google+ ad that tried to put a romantic spin on Circles, only to make it look like a whole lot of work?

Well, the search firm has stepped up their game for the latest Nexus 4/Google Now ad, which shows users around the globe using the best new feature on Android.

Google Now is Google’s answer to Siri, only Google Now is less concerned with voice and more concerned with actually providing useful information. Google Now takes everything it knows about you — your schedule, location, the weather, etc. — and provides relevant information based on the time and place.

For example, if Google Now sees in my calendar that I plan on working out at noon today, but also sees that the train I usually take to the gym is experiencing delays, Google Now will let me know that I need to leave a bit earlier to make it there on time.

That’s just the beginning of it, as Google Now also shows you shopping and food nearby, helps you translate words when you’re in a faraway land, and generally makes you slightly more aware of the world around you. This latest TV ad makes that perfectly clear, while still showing off the excellent UI Google has crafted for its big digital assistant service.

The ad ends on a heartfelt note, with a traveling father connecting with his son on a Google Hangout, reminding us that our smartphones are first and foremost about connecting with the people we love.

sirisucksThough Google shows no voice interaction with the service throughout the entire ad, it’s hard not to liken the service to Apple’s Siri. That said, I tried to do everything in this commercial using Siri, the operative word there being “tried.”

Siri had no trouble locating nearby restaurants, and she translated the word “vegetable” to French fairly easily. However, Siri (and Apple, for that matter) doesn’t seem to understand the value of time, namely the time it takes to get from point A to point B.

I can ask Siri when my next appointment is, but she can’t help me plan the best time to leave for that appointment. She can’t even tell me if the train is delayed. And if I ask for the fastest train route to Union Square, I’m sent to Maps, and then directly into the App Store to buy some transit apps.

Remember, Apple’s new Maps doesn’t have built-in transit directions, so to use public transportation with Apple Maps you must first download a third-party application to deliver that info.

I personally don’t see too much value in going straight into a Google Hangout from Google Now, but it’s worth noting that Siri can’t handle FaceTime calls either. I asked three or four times for her to connect me with various friends on FaceTime, and she kept looking for “FaceTime” in my address book.

Update: A smart commenter mentioned that I was actually using the wrong command for FaceTime. If you say “FaceTime (insert name here),” then Siri has it all under control.