At the Hong Kong event where Google and Samsung introduced the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Matias Duarte, product management director for Android, answered some direct questions from the crowd. When asked to compare Siri with Android’s built-in Voice Control features, he responded with an analogy that any self-respecting geek can identify with. Duarte compared Siri with the bumbling protocol droids like C3PO from Star Wars, while Voice Actions are more like the U.S.S. Enterprise’s computer, where voice controls every function.
Here’s Duarte’s complete quote:
Well, we don’t like to set ourselves in a head-to-head kind of way, you know, Apple makes terrific products, I think Siri is great; I think it’s really hard in the long run to follow strategy of making kind of an artificial personality. You know, it can be really funny at first, but that uncanny value of just, uh, having a personality that you start to interact with, um, as you would a person, with all the contextual ambiguity you would with a real person – that’s a really challenging approach, and they’re going for it, that’s great. Our approach is different. The metaphor I like to take is – if it’s Star Wars, you have these robot personalities like C-3PO who runs around and he tries to do stuff for you, messes up and makes jokes, he’s kind of a comic relief guy. Our approach is more like Star Trek, right, starship Enterprise; every piece of computing surface, everything is voice-aware. It’s not that there’s a personality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just “Computer.”