Siri just received some stiff competition on her home turf: Google Assistant is now on the iPhone, the tech giant announced at its Google I/O developers conference on Wednesday — confirming rumors that Google’s digital assistant would be coming to iOS.
Indeed, shortly after Google made the announcement, a standalone Google Assistant for iPhone app appeared on the U.S. App Store. The app is available for all iPhones running iOS 9.1 and newer. Through the app, iPhone users will be able to ask Assistant to perform general tasks like making calls, sending texts and emails, and playing songs via Spotify. What’s more is that Google has added the ability to type queries and commands if they prefer not to speak them (which is a feature reminiscent of a recent Apple patent).
Of course, Apple’s API restrictions currently prevent Google Assistant from being a true replacement to Siri. You won’t be able to set alarms, for example, and you won’t be able to invoke the Assistant via the Home button. That may be a tradeoff, but Google Assistant is generally considered to be more powerful than its competitors, able to handle complicated queries and commands, according to TechCrunch. But that may change in the future, if the rumors surrounding advanced Siri enhancements turn out to be true. And Siri still has the language advantage: Google Assistant currently only works in English, while Siri currently speaks over 20. Of course, Google also announced today that it would be adding additional languages “later this year.”
Google’s digital assistant was originally unveiled last fall, but until today, it was only available on Android, or via platforms like Google Home and Google’s Allo messaging app. And its arrival on the iPhone makes for an even more crowded playing field — Amazon, for example, launched Alexa in its iOS shopping app a few months ago. Still, unless Apple loosens up some of its API restrictions (which, at this point isn’t very likely), Siri is still well positioned to remain the leading digital assistant on iOS.
The Google Assistant for iPhone is now available to download from the Apple App Store — though initially only for users in the U.S. A global rollout will take place later this year, Google added.