Google has announced they're updating their voice-powered Google Search app for iPhone and iPad with functionality that sounds like it's much more competitive with Apple's own voice-powered service, Siri.
In the latest version of the Google Search App for iOS and Android, not only can you say your question out loud, but your search app can speak your answer right back to you. And, using Google's Knowledge Graph, your search app gives you smarter answers loud and clear.
While Google's original iOS apps were disappointing native wrappers around web views, they've really stepped up their game lately with the new Google+ app and improvements to the still middling Gmail app. Google is also reportedly working on an iOS YouTube app to replace the built-in YouTube app that's been removed in iOS 6 beta 4, and it's widely expected they be making a Google Maps app for iOS, or refreshed Google Earth app, since Apple is replacing the Google-powered built-in Maps app with a new, Apple and TomTom-powered iOS 6 Maps app.
Making Google Search competitive with Siri will be important for Google as Apple continues to remove them from the built-in systems, and intermediate and broker search traffic -- and the all-important user data that comes with it -- away from Google.
Since most users stick to defaults and built-in functionality, and App Store apps require users to learn about them and go to the trouble of downloading and manually launching them each time they want to use them, even an improved Google Search isn't on equal footing with Siri, but at this point, Google's business model needs every iOS user they can hold on to. The only way to do that is by providing compelling apps and services that make users seek them out.
Sadly, the App Store doesn't provide the the type of system-level access Google would need to build something on the level of Google Now for iOS -- something that proactively, almost pseudo-precognitively finds out information for you, but what they're doing on Android should certainly keep Apple on their toes.
Look for the new Google Search app on the App Store soon. Meanwhile, here's a link for the current version, and a video of what's to come...