Voice Search Smackdown: Ooloo vs. Siri vs. Google Now
Ooloo, a free voice search app, uses real people to answer your questions, and while it outperforms Google Now on Android, Apple's Siri bests Ooloo in most cases, according to CIO.com mobile app reviewer James A. Martin's tests.
Ooloo is a new, free voice search app for iOS and Android, and it relies on actual humans to answer your questions 24/7. I tested the iOS app and compared the answers I received to answers from Apple’s Siri and Google Now (on an Android smartphone).
The verdict: Of the five test questions I asked, Ooloo excelled at one, did an OK job with another, and mostly fumbled the other three.
When asked, “When will the iPhone 6 be released?,” I received an answer from Ooloo in less than a minute with text copied and pasted from an article in TheTelegraph.co.uk, a U.K. news site. The text quoted a source that suggested Tuesday, Sept. 9, is the next iPhone’s launch date.
As of this writing, it’s not clear when the iPhone 6 will be launched or when it will be available. At least Ooloo’s response didn’t make me dig through links. In comparison, Google Now served up links to various websites with dedicated pages that compiled related iPhone 6 news and rumors. Siri simply replied: “Apple.com should be able to answer that question, and more.” Um, I rather doubt that, Siri.
When I asked Ooloo, “What is the highest rated movie currently showing in San Francisco?,” I received a text link that said, “Go see this movie!” The link took me to a Fandango ticket page for Guardians of the Galaxy.
Siri’s answer was more acceptable; it displayed currently playing movies sorted by Rotten Tomato scores. Guardians was the third highest-ranked film behind Boyhood and Snowpiercer. Google Now simply showed me current movie listings from The San Francisco Chronicle and other websites.
The simple question of “What’s the current temperature?” sparked a quick response from Ooloo. My location (San Francisco) was correctly identified in the answer, but the temperature was in Celsius.
Ooloo couldn’t be any easier to use. You just tap a large yellow microphone icon, record your question, post it and await the response, which usually comes within about three minutes. You can also go back and review your previously asked questions, which are cached.
I like Ooloo, but I don’t think it’s a match for Siri. It did a better job than Google Now, though, in terms of directly answering questions instead of making me click and search them. So if you’re an Android user, you might want to take Ooloo for a spin.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.