Being an Android user I have to admit a little jealousy when I saw my iFriends playing with their new Siri voice assistant on their new iPhones. In case you have been sleeping under a rock, Siri is an app that was made available on the new Apple iPhone 4s. The app acts as a voice activated personal assistant. Here is a link if you would like to read more about it. That being said, I decided to go on a quest to find an Android alternative to Siri.
Before I dig into my little review here, let me first say a couple of things. This is not an end-all-be-all list of Siri alternatives, but rather a small list of ones that I have tried and found worth mentioning. I also want to say that I have the LG Optimus T, which is not the most cutting edge technology however, I really like it. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dig into the review.
My search for Siri alternatives began by searching the Android Market on my phone. I used a simple search term “Siri alternatives for Android”. I was blown away by how many of them came my way. Here are a few that I found noteworthy.
The first assistant I tried was one called Iris. Seemed like the natural one to start with as it is Siri spelled backwards. It was highly touted in the reviews. My initial reaction after installing it was that it was pretty clean looking. You can see a screenshot pictured below.
You basically had a black screen with a button at the bottom and the logo to the bottom right. You simply tap the button at the bottom and ask it a question. Of all the apps I tried, Iris interpreted what I said quicker and more accurately. Doing general searches for information was pretty easy with Iris. It seems to have a pretty extensive database on the back end and does a good job most of the time. However, there were times when I would ask a question and it would respond with something really off the wall. It also didn’t seem to integrate well with system type commands. For instance, I tried several different ways to get it to wake me up at a certain time and just didn’t want to go there. I was able to get it to send a text message for me but had trouble getting it to make a call.
Next comes Skyvi. Skyvi incorporates a technology called “Beacons”. For instance, you can program it notify you when you get near your pharmacy so you remember to pick up your medicine. I found that to be pretty unique and useful. See the screenshot below.
This one was pretty easy to use and attempts to be entertaining at times. One thing I like is that you can hit the little home button and it will give you some hints as to what you can do with it. I found it to be a little clunky though. It misinterpreted me quite a bit. I feel like this app has a lot of potential but they have a ways to go if they want to to be “better than Siri” as they claim they want to be in their description.
Speaktoit Assistant was pretty fun I have to admit. First of all, you get to design the look of your assistant to your liking. She can have different color hair, skin, eyes, clothes, etc… You can even give her a better voice instead of that robotic Android voice. She will even smile at you! Though entertaining, it wasn’t quite as useful as I thought it could be. It did have some trouble with interpreting at times. Search queries didn’t go as well with this one either. “Where was George Washington born?” brought back the answer “I’m not exactly sure.” It was also the slowest to respond of all I tried. One positive I can say about it was that it was able to interact pretty well with my Facebook status updates. You can see an example screenshot pictured below.
The last app I tried was Vlingo. Things didn’t start out so well with these guys. The first day I downloaded it I couldn’t get any responses. It had raving reviews on the market so I decided to give them a chance and contact customer support. To their credit, they contacted me pretty quickly and let me know that their network was down the day I tried. So I reinstalled the app and it worked pretty well. Vlingo’s database is pretty extensive, though if I were playing Trivial Pursuit I would still want Iris. The thing I liked the most about Vlingo was the “InCar” feature. You can see this pictured below. In this mode you can send messages and make calls without having to touch the phone at all. Just say “Hey Vlingo” and it responds to you. This feature works pretty well. This is a great alternative for people who like to hear their messages while on the go.
In conclusion, all of these apps have their strengths, but they also have glaring weaknesses. At this moment I couldn’t highly recommend any one of these over the other because they all have features that might be useful to different people. The short answer would be that all are worth trying. In doing so you might find one of them that suits your needs just fine. Just don’t expect any of them to blow Siri out of the water.