Google pushes into Apple’s turf to put its virtual assistant into iPhones, report says

“Hello, Siri, and goodbye.”

Those words would be music to the ears of Google, which is poised to unveil an iPhone version of its “Assistant” virtual-assistant, according to a report published a day before the start of Google’s annual developers conference, I/O.

Now, the iPhone is where Siri lives, and you might think she’d be angry at this kind of encroachment, which pits her infamously limited abilities against the up-and-coming Assistant’s.

So we asked Siri, “Are you mad that Google Assistant is coming into your phone?”

It turns out that Siri was very upset, but trying not to show it, and had been engaging in a little retail therapy to get through it.

“I just got back from Apple picking, I got an iPhone 7, a new Apple watch,” Siri said in response to our question.

OK, Siri, got it, you’re hurt — we won’t press any further.

Google is expected to announce the iPhone version of Assistant at the company’s annual developers conference, the three-day I/O starting May 17, according to Bloomberg.

“Google’s voice-based Assistant, unveiled at last year’s I/O and released in the fall, competes with Apple’s Siri and Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa,” Bloomberg reported May 16. “It is set to land on the iPhone as a free, standalone app that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store.”

The news outlet attributed the news to an anonymous person said to be familiar with the matter.

Google’s Assistant resides in the Mountain View firm’s “Home” virtual-assistance device and in phones running Google’s Android operating system.

Advances in artificial intelligence have vastly improved the ability of virtual assistants since Siri’s pioneering appearance in the iPhone 4S in 2011.

Earlier this year, the New York Times tested Siri, Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s “Cortana,” the latter of which has been mostly aimed at business use. The Times gave a GPA-type grade based on a maximum of four points.

“In the end, none of the voice assistants earned a report card that would make a strict parent proud,” according to the Times. Assistant came out on top with a 3.1, Siri was next with a 2.9, then came Cortana with a 2.3, with Alexa trailing at 1.7.

“Apple was the strongest at productivity tasks like calendar appointments and email; Google was the best at travel and commute-related tasks. Alexa excelled at music, and Cortana was mediocre across the board,” the Times reported.

 

Photo illustration: An iPhone held up in front of the Apple logo. (AFP/Getty Images)

 

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