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App shootout: Siri or Cortana - which is best?

We asked Siri and Cortana the same questions to see whether the Apple -- or Microsoft -- personal assistant gave the best answer to our questions for work and leisure.

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eileen-brown.jpg
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Topic: Mobile OS
1-eileen-brown-zdnet-siri-cortana.png
1 of 20 Eileen Brown / ZDNet

We asked both Siri and Cortana the same questions to see which personal assistant could best answer our queries. See which app was the most accurate across a range of activities.

eileen-brown-zdnet-33rd-st-ny.png
2 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Where is the best place to eat on 33rd street New York?

Cortana accurately showed me a list of restaurants on 33rd St NY and surrounding areas. It showed the distance to the restaurant, the Yelp review rating and the approximate cost.

Siri couldn't work out where I was despite location being enabled in settings.

Which performed better?

 In this case: Cortana

eileen-brown-zdnet-alarm.png
3 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Wake me up at 7.10am tomorrow

Cortana set the alarm and confirmed that it had completed the task.

Siri set the alarm and confirmed that it had done so.

Which performed better?

Both Siri and Cortana succeeded in their tasks.

eileen-brown-zdnet-apple-shares.png
4 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

How much are Apple shares worth?

Cortana showed the stock price for the day, a graph with the day’s historical trend and a suggestion about other tech stocks to follow. It also showed the percentage and monetary change in value.

Siri displayed two stocks, one for Ares and one for Apple. It showed the stock price, percentage and monetary change in value.

Which performed better?

Both Siri and Cortana succeeded in their tasks, however Cortana showed more detail in its response.

eileen-brown-zdnet-ba-49.png
5 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

What is the status of BA 49?

Cortana showed the departure and arrival airport for the flight. It showed the scheduled arrival time for the flight, and showed the flight delay for the flight. It detailed the arrival terminal at the airport. It also gave a link to flight updates and showed a list of search results for the query.

Siri showed a list of search results for the flight number.

Which performed better?

Cortana - for a much more intuitive response.

eileen-brown-zdnet-cheap-restaurants.png
6 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Find me the cheapest place to eat in London EC1

Cortana struggled with the district, showing me a list of 10 restaurants in London that were inexpensive. However, it did come up with suggestions on what to ask it next such as “how which of these are open” or “how many have three stars”

Siri could not show any information even though location services were enabled.

Which performed better?

Both apps did not complete this task.

eileen-brown-zdnet-currency-conversion.png
7 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

How many dollars in one British pound?

Cortana displayed the currency exchange from pounds to dollars and also how many dollars in one British pound. It showed a graph of the change in value over the last month. It also showed web results from bing search.

Siri responded with the conversion rate from pounds to dollars.

Which performed better?

Cortana - which showed much greater detail in its response

eileen-brown-zdnet-dentist.png
8 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Change my appointment tomorrow from 10am to 11am

Cortana displayed the correct appointment asking for confirmation to change the time. Once confirmed, the appointment detail was changed.

Siri responded with two appointments asking which appointment was to be changed. On selecting the correct appointment the time was changed.

Which performed better?

Both Siri and Cortana performed equally well on this task

eileen-brown-zdnet-directions-to-starbucks.png
9 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Get me directions to the nearest Starbucks

Cortana initiated directions to Starbucks It initialised the mapping software and driving directions.

Even though location services were enabled Siri did not know the location of the device and could not give directions.

Which performed better?

Cortana

eileen-brown-zdnet-expenses-reminder.png
10 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Remind me to do my expenses at 3pm tomorrow

Cortana created the reminder and asked for confirmation that the details were correct. It then created the reminder.

Siri created the reminder, asked for confirmation and then confirmed that it had created the reminder.

Which performed better?

Both Siri and Cortana completed this task.

eileen-brown-zdnet-hong-kong-weather.png
11 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

What is the temperature in Hong Kong on Tuesday?

Cortana showed the temperature high and low for the correct location on the correct date.

Siri showed the high and low temperature for the correct location on the correct date. It also showed the temperature for a ten day range.

Which performed better?

Both Siri and Cortana completed this task but Siri showed extra detailed information.

eileen-brown-zdnet-map-of-manhattan.png
12 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Show me a map of Manhattan

Cortana showed the map of Manhattan and the distance to get to the location.

Siri initially showed a map of the US which quickly shut down. It then asked for location services to be enabled. Location services were enabled on the device.

Which performed better?

Cortana

eileen-brown-zdnet-muffin-calories.png
13 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

How many calories in an English muffin?

Cortana showed the calorific content, fat, carbs and protein in the muffin with a link to further nutritional information. It also showed a list of bing search results.

Siri showed a list of search results for the English muffin calorie count.

Which performed better?

Cortana - for giving the answer straight away without the need for a further web search.

eileen-brown-zdnet-nyse.png
14 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

How did the New York stock exchange do today?

Cortana showed the bing results for NYSE web site links.

Siri showed a graph of the NYSE showing High and Low values and a historical display of variations in value. It also showed the opening rate and market cap value.

Which performed better?

Siri

eileen-brown-zdnet-play-rock-music.png
15 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Play me some rock music

Cortana queued up music and started to play it using the Xbox music app. It also queued up the next track to play.

Siri responded with a rock music song. The voice command “Open Music” did not work, but clicking this command started to play the track.

Which performed better?

Both assistants performed the requested task.

eileen-brown-zdnet-sing-me-a-song.png
16 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Sing me a song

Cortana sang a snippet of a song. It also showed lyric results from bing search.

Siri refused to sing the first time it was asked. It displayed a song when asked a second time.

Which performed better?

Cortana actually sang the displayed song.

eileen-brown-zdnet-tell-me-a-joke.png
17 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Tell me a joke

Cortana told a clean joke.

Siri refused to tell a joke even when asked several times.

Which performed better?

Cortana actually produced a joke. Whether it was funny or not depends on your sense of humour.

eileen-brown-zdnet-tell-me-a-poem.png
18 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Tell me a poem

Cortana displayed a list of poems and lyrics from bing search.

Siri responded with several poems, each ending with a sarcastic comment.

Which performed better?

Siri – for its snarky comments.

eileen-brown-zdnet-who-won-the-superbowl.png
19 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Who won the SuperBowl this year?

Cortana returned a set of websites using bing detailing the Super Bowl sites.

Siri delivered the correct answer detailing the results for each section of the game.

Which performed better?

Siri

eileen-brown-zdnet-worlds-wettest-country.png
20 of 20 Eileen Brown / @CathieTinn

Where is the world’s wettest country?

Cortana returned a set of results from bing showing a variety of answers.

Siri showed a list of web results from Google.

Which performed better?

Siri and Cortana both performed equally on this task

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