Feeds

Android voice assistant shootout

Battle of the Siri substitutes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Android App of the Week Special In the absence of anything shiny, the hoi polloi and the media focused on Siri as the The Big Idea at the iPhone 4S launch. Android has supported basic voice commands for ages, but there are now a number of Siri-wannabes in the Market. But are they of any use other than as a bit of mild amusement?

That depends on the use you put them to. Asking your phone “how many inches in a kilometre” or “what’s the capital of Paraguay” verbally is a darned sight easier than searching for the information in the conventional manner.

But should you trust these systems enough to schedule dinner with Alex for 10pm on 1 December and not up end up with lunch with Alice on 10 December 10 at 1? If you have to double-check every entry, it would have been faster to tap it in with your finger.

Edwin

RH Numbers

Where Edwin comes up trumps is in its use - like Siri - of Wolfram Alpha, which is without doubt the place to go if you want to ask complicated or technical questions.

Edwin also gets the best from Google’s voice recognition system - it was noticeably better even than Siri when it came to interpreting my questions about Newton-metre to foot-pound torque conversions.

Edwin Android app screenshot Edwin Android app screenshot

The on-screen graphics are simplicity themselves: nothing more than a big microphone, and shortcuts to repeat the last thing Edwin said, to open the minimal settings menu and to access the user guide. There’s also a handy option to have anything Edwin says appear briefly on the screen in large, friendly letters.

Oddly enough, the one thing I couldn't get Edwin to do was tell me what the weather was going to be doing either in my location or anywhere else on the face of the planet.

Edwin Android app QR code
Edwin Android app iconReg Rating 75%
Price Free
Size 1.2MB
Apps2SD Yes
More Info

Iris

RH Numbers

A shiny new app that made the news for because it’s name is Siri spelled backwards and for apparently being coded in a mere eight hours.

The tiny, 900KB Iris pulls its information from True Knowledge which seems a decent source of what’s what and who’s who. Ask Iris a question about a thing, person or place and as well as a brief answer it also rustles up an illustrative image.

Iris Android app screenshot Iris Android app screenshot

Iris scored brownie points by being the only app that correctly understood the subtleties of the question, “Do you know the way to San José?” and even found me a copy of the 7in single sleeve.

When I asked Siri the same question, it told me it could only look for maps and locations in the US. Yes, I know Siri can’t do locations outside the States, but I did expect it to figure out the Bacharach and David undertone.

Still very much an alpha release, Iris is developing at a breakneck speed. It underwent a complete graphical redesign only last week – so I expect it to improve over the coming months.

Iris Android app QR code
Iris Android app iconReg Rating 75%
Price Free
Size 900KB
Apps2SD No
More Info

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: Speaktoit Assistant

More from The Register

next story
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.