Siri is taking over the iPhone experience. Admittedly, after watching the commercials (or here and here) I’m ready to abandon my Android and pick up an iPhone. I’m sure many other Android users are in the same “boat” too. Well, as I wrote about before, Android offers some alternatives, which are decent.
First off, each of these has their problems, and none runs as crisp or clear as Siri looks in the commercials. However, all of them are free, and this sort of makes up for their lack of performance. Second, I have a natural bias against these types of apps, since I think anyone talking to their device is a bit odd. Generally though, if you’re an attorney interested in finding an Android alternative to Siri, I think you’ll be most pleased with (drum roll):
I know, many of the “experts” say Vlingo, and although Vlingo is cool, Assistant performs many of the similar tasks as Siri, which edges out Vlingo slightly.
Assistant is a well-designed application, with a great userface, and overall, performed tasks better than its competitors.
Assistant is customizable, meaning you can change the interface, speaker, and background. The default is a female “assistant” with a digitized voice (using default text-to-speech, somewhat annoying), but I customized my background and interface to a frilly green (you can use your default wallpaper) and a microphone. I also made my assistant a little sexier by changing the voice to “Female USA” (hubba, hubba).
All of these assistants depend on Google’s native voice search, which is sketchy at times to say the least. While Vlingo performed well, Assistant seemed to be most accurate, probably achieving 80-85% accuracy in the car (docked), and 95% accuracy while held. Vlingo often struggled with even basic tasks, such as displaying the weather or taking me to website:
Admittedly, there were some times when Assistant couldn’t perform, and presented me with a generic Google search (I could do that). But, after some use, Assistant began to improve it’s accuracy, and certainly performed more like Siri.
One thing I didn’t like about any of the apps was the poor performance on calendaring. Speaktoit added everything in lower case (kind of annoying for a guy that likes proper titles), and Vlingo often wanted to search, again, or “missed the first part,” which Vlingo did a lot.
Vlingo has, and the other apps don’t, an in-car setting that allows you to say, “Hey Vlingo,” and the app will respond. This is pretty cool, and makes it easier to go “hands free” in your vehicle. However, the in car features only work when the app is in session, and fails to run when any other program operates (i.e. navigation or Pandora). There’s no way to multitask this app, therefore, if you want the “Hey Vlingo” feature, you need to run Vlingo In-Car constantly. Note: none of the programs operates or functions without the app “in session.”
Unfortunately for Skyvi, it just seemed too childish (one of the praised features is “fun chats, witty remarks, tells jokes) to gather any real steam for me. It’s focused too much on updating my social networks than on providing me a tool to manage my life. I think as time goes on Skyvi will certainly improve (check out the change logs), and may become a qualified competitor.
So, if you’re a lawyer looking for an Android version of Siri, you’ll want to check out Speaktoit Assistant. While it’s certainly not perfect, it’s a viable solution, for now.
Vlingo Virtual Assistant 3.0