It feels like the epic battle of iPhone vs. Android vs. Windows Phone has been going on forever, and admittedly, it's a bit tired at this point. To help freshen things up, it would be wise to take a look at what the phones can actually do, and then see which one handles a certain common function better. The folks at Stone Temple Consulting decided to do just that, and had voice recognition and question interpretation in its sights. Thus, we're entering a new epic battle: Siri vs. Google Now vs. Cortana.
Over the course of two months, multiple employees at Stone Temple sat at a desk, asking a bunch of questions to each service - 3,086 in all. For the Cortana duties, a Nokia Lumia 635 was used, while an iPhone 4s and 5 were used for both Siri and Google Now. Some might question the use of a Google app on an iPhone, but as its core mechanics are identical, the results are fair.
Example questions asked are "How tall is the Eiffel Tower?", "Who is on the 5 dollar bill?", and "How do I become a firefighter?". The way that the panel accepted a result as a proper response is pretty harsh, but is what I'd consider fair. If it was a search result that had the answer, it didn't count. The answer had to have come directly from the service being asked the question, which in Google's case would have been a special box (similar to the one you'd see if you entered a math equation into the search box).
When supplied with these enhanced results, it was Google that performed better than the rest - much better, in fact. It completely answered 88% of its questions properly, whereas Siri and Cortana answered half or less correctly. It should be stressed that Cortana is still in beta, so its shortcomings are hard to harp on too much at this point.
Even so, things don't look too great for Siri and Cortana, but the panel does have this to say, "The enhanced results returned in both systems [Siri and Cortana] had a far higher rate of being at least somewhat helpful, and in Cortana’s case, had a high rate of improving the standard search results. But you still need to click to see what you were really looking for. "
Google's high success rate here doesn't come as a huge surprise for one good reason: Its number of data sources is enormous. It doesn't just gauge the "go-to" services that many consider, like Wikipedia. It's almost as if its work with search engines and scouring the Web for information has paid off!