NH Investment & Securities analyst Kang Yoon Hum has said a few words about the state of Apple versus Android, and seems to think it’s too close to call. After today’s presentation from Google and Samsung of Android’s next evolutionary step, Ice Cream Sandwich, Hum says, “In terms of technology and functionality, it’s hard to find a big difference between Android and iOS any more. They are neck-and-neck.”
The new features and updates for Android that will be available with Ice Cream Sandwich are at least similar to Apple’s (whether or not they’re superior or inferior depends on who you ask). Hum feels that the gap between the two major mobile operating systems (Android and iOS, of course) has been closed by this new update, but does not offer thoughts on what can and should be done by either in order to vault them ahead of the competition.
One might cite Apple’s Siri as a major feature that’s lacking in other operating systems, but Hum is nonchalant:
“Voice-recognition technology itself isn’t new, and it’s just a matter of how you use it. Apple seems to have further fine-tuned their algorithm, but it’s hard to say people will buy the iPhone just because of that.”
This actually underlines something about Siri that people often misunderstand: It goes beyond simply being voice-recognition software (an area in which Android is nearly as good, if not equal to Apple), but is a step into the realm of what I would call “intent-recognition”, where users speak to the device in plain language and the computer responds in proper context. So long as voice recognition is effective, speaking “email, [address book name], subject, meeting, message, Will be five minutes late” is no more than a verbal representation of non-contextual keyboard input. Siri, as far from the “ideal” as it may still be, is apart from the competition in the way that it attempts to parse if/then statements and interpret input data in context. Still a long way to go, but it’s an important distinction if you want to avoid the apples-to-oranges thing.