Google released Google Assistant for iPhone last week. It is a major u-turn for the search giant, after announcing at last year’s Google I/O conference that it will be available exclusively on Google Pixel.
It seemed like an interesting strategy, one taken from Apple’s playbook, to differentiate the hardware by offering a killer feature like Google Assistant exclusively on the Pixel. But as Ben Thompson rightly pointed out, Google seems to have quickly realized that driving usage needs to be the goal, so it can then be leveraged for something else.
Google Assistant is currently available only in the U.S, and not surprisingly, has received positive reviews. Unfortunately, despite the positive reviews, there are several reasons why Google Assistant cannot beat Siri on the iPhone.
Why Google Assistant Can’t Beat Siri on the iPhone
Here’s a look at some of the reasons why Google Assistant cannot beat Siri on the iPhone:
1. Doesn’t Come Pre-installed with the iPhone
Unlike Siri, you need to download the standalone from the App Store. In fact, if you’re outside U.S, then you’re out of luck.
2. Can’t Long Press Home button to invoke Google Assistant
You need to launch the app from the Home screen, or use the Notification widget, to invoke Assistant on the iPhone, which means that you can use it only after unlocking the iPhone. You can’t long press the Home button to invoke Siri, which makes it a lot more convenient to use.
3. Can’t Use Google Assistant Hands-free
Unlike Siri, you cannot use Google Assistant hands-free on your iPhone by saying “Ok Google” like “Hey Siri”. You need to tap on the microphone icon for Google Assistant to start listening to your commands or you need the app to be running in the foreground to use the “Ok Google” command.
4. Lacks System Integration
You cannot tell Google Assistant to do cool things like enable or disable Wi-Fi, turn on AirPlane mode, take a picture etc. It will promptly tell you that it can’t enable Wi-Fi on iPhones.
5. It can send SMS, Make Phone Calls but there is a catch
If you go to Google Assistant’s App Store page, you would probably get excited when you read you can make a call, send a text message, send emails etc. using Assistant, but unfortunately, it needs an extra step to send the message or make a call.
6. Lacks Integration with third-party apps
Google Assistant is integrated with only Google apps. So if you have Google Maps installed on your iPhone then you can ask Google Assistant for directions, and it will launch the Google Maps app and give you the directions seamlessly.
Unfortunately, you cannot invoke other third-party apps with Assistant in the same way or like you can do with Siri. So you cannot ask Assistant to get an UberX to the airport, and it will seamlessly book a taxi for you using the Uber app.
The good news is that Google plans to bring third-party integration.
7. Won’t work like Siri in your Car
If you’re used to using Siri by invoking it with a button in the car, then you won’t be able to do the same with Google Assistant.
Google Assistant feels crippled on the iPhone. To be fair to Google, it is due to the restrictions imposed by Apple. I am sure both Google and iPhone users would love to see Apple allowing users to set their default apps in iOS 11 so that third-party apps like Google Assistant can work more seamlessly on the iPhone.
Google Assistant isn’t a killer feature yet but I think that in the future Apple could end up losing customers who are willing to switch platforms for killer features or apps that work much better on Android smartphones.
What do you think? Do you still like Google Assistant on the iPhone with these limitations?