SAN FRANCISCO — Siri may be feeling a little job insecurity. The sometimes droll assistant that answers questions and helps people manage their lives on Apple's iPhone and iPad is facing competition from an up-and-coming rival made by Google.
The duel began Monday with the release of a free iPhone and iPad app that features Google Now, a technology that performs many of the same functions as Siri.
It's the first time that Google Now has been available on smartphones and tablet computers that aren't running on the latest version of Google's Android software. The technology, which debuted nine months ago, is being included in an upgrade to Google's search application for iOS, the Apple Inc. software that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It's up to each user to decide whether to activate Google Now within the redesigned Google Search app, which is available through Apple's app store.
Siri tried to dismiss the competitive threat. When asked for an opinion about Google Now, Siri responded: "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather Google later."
Mike Allton, a St. Charles, Mo., resident who has owned an iPhone for four years, could hardly wait to check out Google Now, even if Siri might interpret it as a betrayal.
Siri "is looking a little green with envy," Allton, 36, said with a laugh after he installed Google's new app. "I love Apple products, but I like to see the competition because it probably will lead to even more improvements. I believe this technology is going to be even more deeply ingrained in our lives a few years from now."