Google updates iOS Search app with enhanced voice capabilities: Hands-on

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Google updates iOS Search app with enhanced voice capabilities: Hands-on
Google is often referred to as the search giant and for good reason. The company is always experimenting with its search features to deliver the most accurate and relevant results, both on the web and through its apps.

Speaking of relevant and accurate results, the latest update to the Google Search app for iOS brings improved voice recognition capabilities, which until now was appreciated only on its Android counterpart.

The voice search inherits features from Google Now including the look, sounds and a voice assistant that reads the query results back to you, which are all definitely welcome additions. So, is the refreshed voice search app a threat to Apple's native Siri? We find out.

If you've used the Google Search app on your iOS device, then you'd agree that it's very simple to use. Version 2.5 of the app is no different when it comes to usage. once you've installed the update, you might want to change the language preference. Just head over to Settings (gear icon on the top right)> Voice Search and scroll down to choose from a list of languages. You can tap the Default tab to set the chosen language as your default.

Once you tap the 'Voice labelled' microphone icon and fire away away questions, Google Search throws the results right at you in a jiffy. It is fast and pretty accurate too. The results are powered by Google's Knowledge Graph that helps the app relate the search with its actual meaning.

Here's what Google said:

The new Google Search app for iPhone and iPad helps you [find information] with enhanced voice search that answers any question with the comprehensive Google search results you know and love.

We tried English (U.S.) and the closer to home English (India) language choices and we were mighty impressed with the accuracy of both. For example, when asked simple questions with English (India) like "What is the weather like in Pune", the app provides results with text streamed on the fly and that is nothing short of being fast and accurate. It opened up the weather widget showing the local weather as asked.

In another question asked, "Can you and find me nearby restaurants", the app promptly communicates by saying, "There are several listings for restaurants in less than a mile away".

We also used it to find directions and it threw accurate local results without hesitation. While asking "How do I get to the Pune airport", the app displayed the route on Google Maps, also providing my current location, time and distance to reach my destination.

The same was true with the English (US) language preference. When asked "How many Dunkin' Donut stores across the US" and the app sprung open results for Dunkin Brands Inc. with a Google Maps location of their headquarters.

One thing we noted here is that the voice feedback for most results was applicable when the language was chosen as English (US). English(India) delivered voice-based results mostly for common searches like nearby restaurants, theatres or book stores to quote an example.

We tried to have a bit of Halloween fun to see if the app played around. But unlike Siri's witty answer to the question, "Do you believe in Zombies", which was "It really doesn't matter what I believe", the Google Search app was up and straight forward with the results. However when asked, "What does a pumpkin look like", the app displayed several images of halloween-carved pumpkins, with an answer "Here you go. Some pictures related to pumpkin".

Overall, there's no doubt that the app delivers a stellar performance when fetching results, with accuracy, relevance and timing at its core. However, Siri being integrated in to Apple's software, it helps provide other search requests pertaining to opening applications and mail. But Siri has been under criticism for its overall accuracy in offering web-related results. This is where, Google can be seen as having a big advantage over Siri.

The Google Search app for iOS v2.5 is definitely worthwhile and we recommend you download it to experience the improved voice search function to know what we're talking about.

Google Search (iOS, Free)

Check out this video that shows what the updated Google Search app is capable of doing.

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