Google assistant a rival to Siri

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Devin Coldewey /

Google’s smart assistant is asked for photos of pygmy marmosets, using Android 4.1.

Google showed off its Siri clone Wednesday, and she not only seemed to get the answers right, she also threw in photos, too.

“Who is the prime minister of Japan?” a Google exec asked his Android device before a large audience at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

The response on the screen: “Yoshihiko Noda,” accompanied by a photo of the prime minister. There were were also queries about the definition of robot (which as he noted, seemed appropriate), and asked how tall Seattle’s Space Needle is. The answer, loud and clear: “604 feet,” also accompanied by a photo. The “aww” moment came when the voice assistant was asked: “Show me pictures of pygmy marmosets.”

The voice program — powered by Google Knowledge Graph — is part of Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean, which will be available in mid-July and for certain newer Android devices (but not all). Siri was introduced by Apple for the iPhone 4S, and while it is hugely popular, and the focus of the iPhone’s ad campaigns, users are not always finding its results don’t always flow as seamlessly as shown in TV commercials.

Also in Android 4.1 will be Google Now, which improves Google search. Google will use your search and navigation history to tell you “what you need to know when you want to know it.” For example, Google Now will be able to figure out your commute and suggest alternate routes to you.

Or, if you’re at a train or bus station, Google Now will let you know when your next ride is coming.

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