It’s hard to remember a time when - if we had a question - we couldn’t simply ask our virtual assistant the answer. Whether it’s for a speedy translation at a restaurant overseas, or a simple everyday task at home, many smartphone users rely on them for convenience.

These voice assistants have become household names – but, while all of them have the same basic capabilities, the specs and features tend to vary between smartphone manufacturers. We’ve chosen to compare two of the most popular virtual assistants on the market: Siri and Google Assistant.

Siri – a brief history

In 2011, Siri made its debut in the smartphone world, when it was launched as a standout feature on iPhone 4S, becoming the first virtual assistant available on a smartphone. Before making its debut on the smartphone scene, Siri was originally launched by the US Government as an AI app, but the tech was soon snapped up by Apple.

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Since its launch, Siri has become an institution for Apple users. This has seen the tech giants make the technology a default presence across all their products.

With Siri, you can choose the gender of the app’s voice, but there’s also 17 different languages available. You can also keep an eye on your diary, thanks to a sync-up with the Apple Reminders list.

Google Assistant – a brief history

The wake words 'Hey Google’ and ‘Ok Google’ became part of the tech world when Google Assistant was launched in 2016. It was originally billed as an exclusive for brand products such as Google Home speakers and the tech giant’s first smartphones, but soon became more universally available. In 2017, the software became available as an app on all Android handsets, and later the same year it was launched on iPhones too.

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Google has continued to build on these sturdy foundations, and has created partnerships with multiple manufacturers in the tech world. As a result, Google Assistant has become a widespread fixture across an array of different domestic and mobile tech, including smart fridges, cars and TVs.

With its most recent edition, Google Assistant provides support in 30 languages, offers a range of celebrity voices and has become an integral part of the Android user experience. Thanks to its connection with Google Calendar, it can also be used as an organiser to keep us up to speed.

Compatibility with smartphones

We use virtual assistants on our smartphones across a range of locations, and for a number of activities. These tasks can be conducted by both Siri and Google Assistant, but which smartphones are they compatible with?

Siri is available for all Apple devices, and is a pre-existing app on all iPhones.

Since it’s a built-in app, it’s super easy to engage with Siri on your iPhone. All you have to do is to say ‘Hey Siri’, or long press your handset’s power button, and you’ll be able to ask a question or request directions.

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Google Assistant can be used across all Android smartphones and tablets, and, thanks to the Google Assistant app, it can also be downloaded for free onto all Apple and Android handsets.

Most Android smartphones come with a built-in shortcut for Google Assistant, offering intuitive interaction similar to Siri. If you download the Google Assistant app onto your iPhone, the first time that you open it you’ll need to log in to a Google account.

Can it answer your questions?

A key attribute of any voice assistant is that they’re user-friendly, and easy to communicate with. Both Siri and Google Assistant are responsive to your requests. Siri is a dedicated communicator, recognising one voice at a time. So as an iPhone user, you and the service will have in-depth knowledge of one another. This relationship helps you to make the most of it, and the app can handle making calls, composing texts and emails hands free, without a glitch.

You can also use third-party apps with Siri. It gives you the ability to message hands free on WhatsApp, call a cab via Uber and even update your Facebook status, all by using verbal communication.

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Google Assistant, meanwhile, understands context, which means it can react in a natural, informed way. This step has been made by providing more power towards voice control, and by focusing the AI to not just offer a knee-jerk, reactive response that focuses on key words or phrases. It can also recognise the voices of different people, and can handle multiple requests at the same time – so the whole family can all join in at once.

Communication has also become smoother thanks to its Continued Conversation function. This means that you no longer have to go over old ground by saying ‘Hey Google’ once you’ve started talking to the app.

Connect your phone to your home

Using a virtual assistant at home has become a common method of carrying out everyday tasks, and Siri and Google Assistant have become firmly established across the nation’s households.

Due to the fact that Siri works across many Apple devices – including Macs, iPhones and iPads, it’s an easy and smooth system to use if you’re an Apple fan. You can maximise its capabilities by pairing it with the dedicated speaker, Apple HomePod. You can also use a Siri remote for Apple TV, or even screenshare from a film being played on one of your other Apple devices, to an AirPlay2-compatible TV.

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Thanks to its universal compatibility with multiple smartphones and a whole host of other tech, Google Assistant makes it easy to create a smart home set up. To set up a connected system at home, sync either your smartphone or Android Audio with a Google Nest or Home Speaker. You’ll be able to link it up with any smart devices you may have dotted around the household, including Nest thermostats and home security systems.

If you’re looking to use Siri on an iPhone or Google Assistant on a compatible smartphone, you’ll be able to find the latest SIM-free and contract deals at Mobiles.co.uk.