Google Search for iOS threatens the incumbent Siri

One of Scott Forstall's biggest blunders was overhyping Siri prematurely. Sensing an opportunity, Google today enhanced its Search app by adding Siri-like features and compatibility with older devices.

Google Search for iOS a threat to the incumbent Siri - Jason O'Grady

It's no secret that Siri didn't get off to a great start. Calling early reviews "mixed" would be polite. When it launched with the iPhone 4S in October 2011 Apple described Siri in its typical, magical terms:

Siri not only understands what you say, it knows what you mean. It figures out the right apps to use to find the right answer. Then, just like a personal assistant, it answers you.

When Siri launched, Apple Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall gave the demo (video). It's largely believed the Forstall was fired from Apple because of Siri and the iOS 6 Maps debacle

Regardless of what you think of Siri, Google clearly senses an opportunity. Today, it released a significant update to the Google Search app (free, iTunes) that competes head-to-head with Siri.

Google Search 2.5 includes improved voice recognition, on-the-fly text streaming, and answers to questions in a spoken voice, just like Siri.

Sample queries include:

  • What’s the weather like tomorrow morning?
  • Where’s the nearest gas station?
  • What’s a good place for sushi?
  • When does United Airlines flight 900 depart?

Sound familiar?

Here's the demo video:

Two things surprise me about Google Search 2.5 for iOS:

  1. That Google released it for iOS, which is a direct threat to its Android business; and
  2. That Apple approved it for release on the App Store, when it could have manufactured a reason to deny it.

Make no mistake about it, Google Search's new voice search capabilities are a direct threat to Apple and iOS. In fact, if Google added a preference for "voice search on launch" to its new search app (like Soundhound does with instant music recognition), it could be a full replacement for Siri.

Google search vs. Apple search is just begging for comparison to Google Maps vs. Apple maps but that's a topic for another post.

My problem with Siri is planned obsolescence. Apple artificially restricts Siri to the iPhone 4S (or higher) just to sell hardware. But guess what? Google Search 2.5 works flawlessly on the iPhone 4, while Siri doesn't work at all.

Apple thinks that it's protecting the bottom line by restricting Siri to the iPhone 4S+ but it's actually burning good will from loyal customers and pushing them to a Google product.

What's your take on the new Google Search app?