Whether you are a battle-hardened super-fan who has seen it all before, or a newbie getting into soccer for the first time, Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri want to help guide you through the FIFA World Cup.
Kicking off today (June 14) with hosts Russia vs Saudi Arabia, the World Cup's 64 matches span from now until the final in Moscow on July 15. With 32 teams across eight groups in the first round, and up to four matches a day, there is a lot to keep on top of.
Thankfully, Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are all able to tell you who plays who, which teams are in each group, and the result of each match. But, as we found out, their abilities vary significantly and Siri can't help but score an embarrassing own goal for Apple.
It didn't take long for Siri to come unstuck when asked about the world's largest sports tournament. We asked the assistant about Spain's first game, which it correctly answered as being against Portugal on June 15. But when we asked who it thinks will win, Siri said: "The odds favor Spain over Portugal by 0.5 goals."
What is half a goal, Siri?
We tried again with England, asking who their first match is against (Tunisia on June 18), then who Siri thinks will win. The answer we got was: "Those in the know say that England will defeat Tunisia by 1.3 goals." Great. Thanks, Siri. We're looking forward to learn what fractions of goals are.
We were also confused by the '0-0-0' score placeholders...
What does that even mean, Siri?GearBrain
When asked who will win the tournament, Siri wouldn't say, so instead gives us the fixture list for the next five days.
Surprisingly, we also had trouble getting Google Assistant to understand our simple questions. The AI did not understand when we asked about Brazil's first game, even when we said: "Hey Google, who does Brazil play first in the World Cup?"
Instead, we had to say: "Hey Google, what is Brazil's next match?"
Sometimes, Google will hear you mention the World Cup and say that it kicks off with Russia vs Saudi Arabia, then suggests how you can get more fixtures by asking about a specific team. We ask: "Who does Spain play first?" but Google could not answer.
Asking the Assistant about its thoughts on who will win the tournament, it replies: "With so many matches to watch, anyone who likes football is the real winner."
Thankfully - mercifully - Amazon has given Alexa a hearty dose of soccer knowledge ahead of the first match. You can ask about fixtures, such as: "Alexa, who does Brazil play next?", without needing to specify that you are talking about the World Cup, or about soccer generally. Alexa also knows the current score of any ongoing fixtures, and which player scored.
But what makes Amazon's assistant stand out from the (admittedly mediocre) competition, is her general soccer knowledge, which will help out anyone who is new to the game, or unfamiliar with some of its obscure phrases.
Ever wondered what the commentator means when they say a team has "parked the bus" or is "putting it in the mixer"? Alexa knows the answers, but you have to ask specifically. Such as: "Alexa, what is counter-attacking in football?" or "Alexa, what is 'parking the bus' in football?"
This all works quite well, but we got some very strange results during our testing. When we tried to ask: "Alexa, what is counter-attacking in football?", she thought we said: "England jet off to the World Cup in style," and told us what types of aircraft the team has previously flown on to the tournament.
Asking Alexa who she thinks will win returns: "My money's on Spain, or maybe Brazil, or maybe Germany, or maybe France."
More helpfully, here is a list of questions you can ask Alexa about the World Cup:
- Alexa, what is a 'false nine' in football?
- Alexa, what is advantage in football?
- Alexa, what is pressing in football?
- Alexa, what is counter-attacking in football?
- Alexa, what is 'putting it in the mixer' in football?
- Alexa, what is 'parking the bus' in football?
- Alexa, what is 'Row Z' in football?
- Alexa, why do international footballers win 'caps'?
- Alexa, what does it mean when a football player plays 'in the hole'?
- "Alexa, when's the first World Cup game?"
- "Alexa, what teams are in the World Cup?"
- "Alexa, who won the last World Cup?"
- "Alexa, what country has won the most World Cups?"
- "Alexa, what group is Sweden in for the World Cup?"
- "Alexa, when do England play next in the World Cup?"
- "Alexa, who scored for Germany?
- "Alexa, when do Iceland play next in the World Cup?"
- "Alexa, what's the score of the Panama game?"
- "Alexa, did Japan win in the World Cup?"
- "Alexa, who scored for France?"