We test a range of Android apps that sell some that the use of Apple"s Siri voice recognition feature


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By Sharon Machlis

Executive Editor, Data & Analytics, Computerworld |


Although I"m happy v my Samsung Galaxy S II Android phone, I"ve additionally got a bad case of Siri envy. I, too, would prefer a "personal assistant" the responds to natural language request such together "Move my meeting from 3 come 4." and I"m certain I"m not alone, together the countless Google search results for "Siri because that Android" attest.

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Can you develop a Siri-like suffer on an Android smartphone? no exactly, as there"s no single app baked into the OS that can handle a likewise wide selection of requests using free-form natural language. However, the is possible to obtain a same chunk the Siri"s functionality. Unlike iphone 4S users, though, you"ll have to gather together a couple of various apps if you want to problem a wide selection of voice regulates on her Android device.

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On the other hand, there room a couple of things Android voice-activated apps execute that Siri can"t -- for example, usage "launch " commands and head directly to websites.

I ran an ext than fifty percent a dozen contenders with their paces, trial and error them because that various attributes to interact (make calls, send messages), to organize (keep track of appointments) and also find information. Check out on to see several of the best options for creating your own subset that Siri because that Android -- and also which apps work ideal for what particular tasks.

Note: in addition to apps from the Android Market and also those typically loaded on Android devices, your phone may have added offerings. Because that example, mine Galaxy S II came through a customized widget offering Voice Command which, when limited, does a particularly an excellent job with some tasks such as sending email or displaying weather forecast net search results.

Apps that speak back to you


Several present Android apps have actually potential to it is in well-rounded assistants, although most show up to be functions in progress. In various other words, while some of these may appear restricted in their scope, they will certainly probably enhance rapidly.

Eva

BulletProof

Price: $8.99

Other versions: Eva Intern: cost-free for 28 days

What it does: Eva performs a big number the tasks, such as offering directions and stock quotes, announcing just arrive calls, make calls, creating price reports and also managing contacts. The searches many sites, including Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay and also others. Eva provides a woman voice for responses; if you choose a masculine voice, you can use Evan and Evan Intern.

It"s the only one of all the apps ns tested that permits you to customize website bookmarks, so girlfriend could, say, assign the name "Android blog" to JR Raphael"s Android Power and also then phone call Eva to open up Android blog. It also reads text messages if in background mode.

Why you might want it: This is the only app I"ve experiment that"s customizable, allowing you come assign details applications or net bookmarks because that personalized voice commands. The latest update reads every the day"s occasions from multiple Google calendars. And it lets you voice-search numerous sources, not only Google Web.

Drawbacks: Customization come at a expense -- no only due to the fact that of Eva"s $8.99 pricetag, which is greater than the other apps covered right here (although that is reasonable for a robust app), but since of that complexity. This application is more complicated to use than any kind of of the others -- you need to run through a 3-minute maintain session as soon as you very first open it. The app additionally offers a list of 112 different help topics.

In addition, its natural language understanding is quite limited. "Add an occasion to my calendar" didn"t work-related -- I had to speak "Create one event." rather of "Check my calendar" I had actually to to speak "What"s on mine calendar today?" "Find coffeemakers on Amazon" top me come a map; I required to to speak "Search coffeemakers ~ above Amazon" to acquire the right search going. There"s a lot come remember in stimulate to usage Eva.

It to be unable to understand basic commands such together "Open Computerworld.com" without prior setup -- in other words, I needed to pre-save all the web sites I desire to visit by voice command.

The app likewise required me to readjust my default text-to-speech input native Samsung"s come Google"s system, which ns didn"t want to do. For one thing, Google won"t capitalize the start of a sentence after ~ a duration when I"m dictating email (hey, I"m an editor; the matters come me).

Bottom line: among the beauties of Siri is that it just works. Eva have the right to do a lot, but its organic language acknowledgment needs advancement -- the need to remember therefore many certain command paragraph made making use of this app seem as lot a chore together a help. However, if customization appeals to you -- it"s a nice application for voice-activated opened of pre-assigned web bookmarks -- girlfriend can shot Eva Intern free for 28 days and then decide if you desire to pay because that the app. (According to the site, Eva Intern has actually the same attributes as the full-fledged Eva.) If the natural-language capabilities improve, I"d strongly think about buying.

How to tell it to:

Create custom voice-activated bookmarks: "Assign a brand-new bookmark." (The application will explain how this works, then launch your default browser. Girlfriend navigate come the page you want, then go back to Eva and also give the page a name.)Use the bookmark: "Open ."

Iris

Dexetra

Price: Free

Other versions: None

What that does: This alpha application currently calls, texts, does internet searches, chats and looks because that contacts. There room voice-recognition placeholders for jobs that will presumably be implemented soon. If you speak "Go come Computerworld.com," for example, for currently it simply responds "Thanks for that web address."

(And yes, the name is indeed "Siri" in reverse.)

Why you might want it: back Iris is somewhat restricted now, downloading and install it will certainly let you monitor future versions as developers add brand-new capabilities. And the "Ice Cream Sandwich motivated UI" is nice and uncluttered.

Drawbacks: This is still listed as one alpha project and it performs that means -- a recent 2.0 version was rolled ago to variation 1.2 due to problems. And also functionality is restricted -- I had trouble obtaining it to do an easy features such as making phone call or sending out texts, although it did a nice task on the weather and also could answer, "Why is the skies blue?"

Bottom line: Iris isn"t particularly useful -- yet. It is worth keeping an eye on as it gets much more mature and moves out of alpha.

How come tell that to: carry out unit or money conversions: "What is in ?" or "How countless in ?"

Jeannie

Pannous

Price: totally free (with ads; product to be formerly dubbed Voice Actions)

Other versions: Voice plot Plus: $2.99 (without ads, quicker responses)

What the does: provides calls, sets alarms and reminders, sends out messages, social networking, documents audio and video, answer questions, does some translations, searches lot of sites, answers questions and also more. Jeannie is ad-supported and also free; if you want to remove the advertising, Voice Actions to add is $2.99, ad-free and pledges prioritized much faster responses, a beta "listen in background" feature and also increased stability.

Why you could want it: Jeannie has actually the functionality of Google Voice but adds talked responses and also many much more features. Because that example, it will certainly search on certain sites such together Amazon, eBay and also Wolfram Alpha, not simply Google. It also translates native English to typical languages such together Spanish, French and Chinese. (Google interpret handles an ext languages and also translates written also as spoken text.)

Drawbacks: no all the features work together promised. The app appears to it is in able to add items to mine calendar yet it doesn"t it seems to be ~ to work if i say i don"t desire a reminder. (The developer"s website says calendar use is coming.) and also the horoscope started analysis me HTML tags.

I had much more trouble with voice acknowledgment using both Jeannie and also Voice actions Plus than others ns tested -- especially before changing the default voice acknowledgment from Samsung to Google -- but I still had problems even ~ switching.

Bottom line: although this app does a lot, troubles with voice recognition and also the user user interface made that frustrating in ~ times. Because that example, it"s difficult to figure out exactly how to expression queries. Top top the app"s market page, the developer states the paid version will soon market Nuance"s an innovation for far better voice recognition -- and also if that happens, I"d offer the app another try.

How to tell that to:

Translate: "Translate into ."Search sites besides Google: "Search ."

Skyvi

BlueTornado

Price: Free

Other versions: None

What it does: gives info "about every little thing from neighborhood businesses come food nutrition," according to that is developer. It also accesses Facebook and also Twitter, and also offers some "personality" through attempting to sell humorous responses. For example, questioning it to marry you and also it answers, "You it seems ~ nice, yet I"m not into human beings in the way."

Why you could want it: This application taps right into the Wolfram Alpha expertise base come answer questions and also is additionally designed to execute Facebook and Twitter social networking through voice command.

Drawbacks: An application that answer "What"s the weather forecast?" through "Definition: noun: a estimate of the weather" and also "Open my email" v "How old room you?" requirements some job-related on parsing natural-language commands. In addition, the does not open apps, make calls or send emails, and the Wolfram responses are lot more minimal than v Wolfram Alpha itself.

Bottom line: return Skyvi bills itself as Siri because that Android, the is currently lacking a number of basic assistant functions. Hearing an occasional humorous answer come a question might be summary amusing, yet the personality here isn"t impressive sufficient to consist of for the lack of communication or internet navigation.

How come tell it to: answer a question: "How much is it between and also ?" or "What"s percent that ?"

Speaktoit Assistant

Speaktoit

Price: Free

Other versions: None

What that does: Speaktoit Assistant is not Siri, yet it"s a valuable beta that"s tho under development. It"s simple to use and also has reasonable functionality. Speak your request and also the Assistant answers questions, find info, launches apps, does society networking, check the weather, watch at her day"s appointments, add to appointments (but can"t yet modify or remove them), sends messages, provides calls, dram music, does an easy math and more.

Why you might want it: This app offers a variety of different functions and also decent organic language acknowledgment -- because that example, you can usually problem your regulates using a variety of phrases. The developer is responsive to an insect reports and seems to be working to upgrade and also improve the app.

Plus, friend can access the app via a long press of your phone"s search button so girlfriend don"t need to uncover its symbol or widget in order to use it -- not unlike accessing Siri by a home button double-tap.

Drawbacks: There was at the very least one time as soon as Speaktoit was unable come answer a inquiry that it had actually previously comment to. It additionally occasionally had actually trouble connecting to its residence server.

The calendar functionality demands improvement, together it only deserve to read one Google calendar in one account (which is problem if, as I do, you usage multiple color-coded calendars to separate company and an individual appointments); it also occasionally missed items on mine default calendar.

It likewise took a very long time to discover my ar when I provided 3G or 4G on my Galaxy S II (although it was fine using Wi-Fi). And also when it pertains to appointments, I"d advise making use of Speaktoit to open your calendar, not review it come you, since it didn"t constantly find every my appointments (although it did a decent project of adding new events).

Bottom line: Speaktoit Assistant is funny to use and is the speak-back application that I"ve been using the most. Just remember that it"s no a final product yet.

How to tell that to:

Add calendar events: "Create/add appointment/event top top at ."Do an easy math: "What"s ?"Get the moment elsewhere: "What time is the in

?"Launch one app: "Open " or "Launch ."Open the camera app: "Take picture." Apps that respond come voice commands

If you"re mostly interested in having an app that just responds to spoken natural-language requests without speaking back, over there are various other apps that are an ext mature and reliable, but restricted in terms of what part of Siri"s functionality they deserve to match.

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Google find / Voice Search

Google

Price: Free

Other versions: None

What that does: in spite of the names, this apps do more than simply search the Web. Both use Google"s Voice Actions because that Android to permit you to usage your voice to create and also send messages (email or text), play music, call either your contacts or a organization not in your contact list, go to a website, watch a map, acquire directions or write a note. The difference between the two: Voice Search has actually a voice interface only; Google Search uses either voice or text input.