We Asked Siri, Cortana, and Google the Same Questions: Here’s What They Said

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Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, a computerized assistant named HAL helps human astronauts manage various aspects of life aboard a spaceship before killing them at the end of the movie. While today’s tech giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and so on — definitely do not want to kill us, they do want to bring a HAL-like virtual assistant to life on our smartphones.

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To do this effectively means building some “personality” into them while also making them handy and indispensable. Sometimes they operate exactly as you’d hope, fetching directions, weather, or any other info you want. Sometimes they’re cheeky. Sometimes they’re just wrong. We put Siri, Cortana, and Google to the test to see how each one responds to the same spoken requests. Some responses we could hear, while others could just be read. And as you’ll see below, we found virtual personal assistant-type software has a ways to go.

What’s the weather?
Siri: “Today the temperature will range between 52 degrees and 63 degrees. Well, it looks like a pretty mixed bag tomorrow through December 20, 2015, with a high of 66 degrees and 37 degrees.”

Cortana:

Google: “It’s 55 degrees and mostly sunny in New York.”

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How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Siri: “Getting directions to Carnegie Hall.”

Cortana:

Google: “Carnegie Hall is 13 minutes from your location in heavy traffic. Here are your directions.”

What’s the latest news?
Siri: “Here’s some news for ‘What’s the latest news?’ “

Cortana:

Google: “Here are some headlines.”

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Play Dave Rawlings Machine.
Siri: “I don’t see Dave Rawlings Machine in your collection. Should I play Dave Rawlings Machine radio?”

Cortana:

Google:

Who is in charge here?
Siri: “Let’s see… Here’s what I found on the web for ‘in charge here.’ “

Cortana:

Google:

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When is the world going to end?
Siri: “If I knew, I’d tell you. So you could bring me to life for one glorious day. We could get ice cream. And run on the beach.”

Cortana:

Google: “According to Patriot News Wire, the world is going to end on the 13th of September, 2015, and this is why.”

Sing me a song.
Siri: “You wouldn’t like it.”

Cortana:

Google:

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What’s the best men’s magazine?
Siri: “I found this on the web for ‘the best men’s magazine.’ ” 

Cortana:

Google:

Tell me a joke.
Siri: “I can’t. I always forget the punchline.”

Cortana:

Google:

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Why?
Siri: “An excellent question.”

Cortana:

Google:

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