Google I/O 2017 kicked off yesterday, and the company hosting the developer event had more than a few things to announce. We mostly saw updates to existing services, like Google Photos, but there were newish things, too. Like Google Assistant rolling out to a brand new market: the iPhone.
The rumor mill had pointed to Assistant making the jump before Google could get around to making it official, so it wasn't all that surprising to see it happen. Plus, it's Google, so it always felt like it was just a matter of time before it happened. Google's services only work, and can only improve, when they're available to as many people as possible.
Plus, let's face it, Siri has shortcomings, and Google would be silly not to want to try and fill those gaps.
I haven't downloaded the app onto my iPhone just yet, mostly because I'm not in any rush, but I took some time yesterday to read over those who had, and to see what their first impressions were. It went about as well as I expected: Google Assistant is great, probably better than Siri in some cases, definitely better in others, and, yet, not as good as it could be -- because it's on iOS.
At this point it's common knowledge that Apple doesn't let iOS users change default apps. So iMessage is the default app for texting, whether it's a standard SMS or an iMessage, and Apple's own Photos app is the default way to look at pictures and videos. So on and so forth. And while some people would probably love to set Google Assistant as the default digital personal assistant on their iPhone, well, you can't. That's Siri's job.
So while Google Assistant on the iPhone can play music from Apple Music (another default app on Apple's behalf) and YouTube, it can't send money from third-party apps, and it can't summon rides from Uber. It can't post to social networks like Twitter, and it can't take a selfie, or even send messages through third-party messaging apps.
Siri can do these things, because Apple knows it's a strength. Assistant isn't the first competing digital personal assistant available on iOS, after all, and Apple needs to make sure that, while there might be other options, Siri is still the easiest to access and has more features -- just by the very nature of iOS and its design.
I use Siri hands-free, like checking a sports score, the weather, and maybe setting a timer or alarm. Otherwise the digital personal assistant doesn't really come up. And while Google Assistant is great, the fact that I can't just launch the app without touching my phone means I probably won't even put it on my phone. Now, if Apple makes it possible to change default apps, well, it's a whole new ballgame. (One can dream!)
What about you? If you're an iPhone owner, do you plan to download Google Assistant and use it as often as you can? Let me know!