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What's the Best Alternative to Siri – SpeaktoIt, Vlingo or the new Iris? (Hint: It's Not Iris)

Steven Blum
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 We've talked a lot about Siri over the past few weeks and how Apple's new voice command system compares to the Android alternatives, but we've never actually done a thorough side-by-side test of the best voice-activated Android apps. Wondering how Vlingo, SpeaktoIt or the new Iris compare to Siri? Read on and find out... 

Iris

Unsurprisingly, Iris is the least refined personal assistant app, likely owing to the fact that it was created during an 8 hour hack-a-thon just a few days ago. That said, Iris still seems like a sassy lady. She's got a lot of catty things to say in response to your questions, including – "I think I am sleepy now, will get back to you later" and "I am bored right now and I don't feel like answering your questions." THANKS! I think Iris needs some work, which makes sense since she isn't even out on Android Market yet. Hopefully she'll age well and start answering our questions with a bit more authority. We just met and I already feel like she hates me. 

SpeakToIt

SpeaktoIt feels more personal than Vlingo, probably because there's a graphic of a woman assistant on the screen you're talking to. SpeakToIt couldn't really handle some of my more esoteric questions ("how old is the universe?" and "how do I straighten my hair") but she was excellent with measurements (kilometers to miles, quarts to gallons) and could find chinese restaurants near my location in a snap. She was also pretty conversational at times, answering my question "Do you love me?" with "Why wouldn't I like you? You're a great person!" (nice dodge there!)

Vlingo

When it comes to alternatives to Siri, Vlingo still takes the cake. The app is fast, accurate and can even make out mumbled or low-spoken words. When Vlingo doesn't know the answer to something, the app simply Googles it, which is better than hearing from a computer "I have no idea what you're talking about." Vlingo doesn't talk, but that is also a strength; there's no artificial sounding voice to annoy you. Almost all of the questions I asked were answered either immediately or by Google search, which could be quite handy when you have no hands. Vlingo is the clear winner. 

Related:

Apple's Siri Has Limited Functionality Outside the U.S.

Does Apple's Siri Blatantly Rip-Off Vlingo?

How Will the Nexus Prime Compete with Siri?

Comments

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  • Yadan Yadan Jan 18, 2012 Link

    "When it comes to alternatives to Siri, Vlingo still takes the cake"

    I disagree with this opinion. I have downloaded and tested all the Android alternatives I could find on the Market - without any prejudice, favoritism or bias - and have discovered that SpeakToIt edges out Vlingo.
    Firstly, the interface is far more pleasant and comfortable, including the visuals and voice. True, SpeakToIt is not handsfree, but it is no less accurate and knowledgable.

    Unfortunately, after having seen a few demos of Iris, it seems that none of the Androids measure up.
    Furthermore, NONE of these apps, including Iris, are anywhere near where they should have been by now. The development of voice recognition and command, as well as other productivity connected functions, have generally been sorely neglected in favor of media capabilities, styling and gaming. By now, we should have been able to simply speak to the device and have it perform any possible task immediately and accurately.
    In other words, the serious user has pretty much been left out in the cold.

    Nevertheless, should the climate of app competition persist, we may reach this level in the near future.

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  • Steven Blum Jan 18, 2012 Link

    Hi Yadan,

    Thanks for the awesome comment.

    Since this article was published I've reviewed two other Siri replacements: Alice and Andy. My conclusion is that yes, we are far from having a truly accurate voice command application, but Andy and Vlingo are the most accurate, in my impression.

    As for UI, I don't know why exactly, but I don't like seeing a graphical representation of the supposedly human person I'm talking with. That's why I prefer Vlingo's aesthetic more -- it's more abstract, which I find fitting, since I'm talking to a computer.

    Just out of curiosity -- have you tried Siri as well?

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  • Yadan Yadan Jan 18, 2012 Link

    Hi Steven,

    Firstly (and in reverse order), I haven't actually tried out Siri, since my provider and independent retailers in my locality will not allow it; they have this idiotic policy of not allowing a potential buyer to try out an expensive device before purchasing it. (Kind of reminds me of a couple of the local Cuban cigar dealers here who will not allow one to examine a cigar prior to purchase. Fools!) Additionally, I'm not familiar with anyone in my area who has an iPhone 4s (although I'm sure there are plenty, considering that we Israelis are obsessed with running out to buy the latest models of everything).

    As for Andy, I have downloaded it, tested it and uninstalled it; its voice recognition is far worse than either SpeakToIt or Vlingo, and is capable of doing far less. I'm truly puzzled by your opinion of Andy's accuracy.

    Notwithstanding the above, I should thank you for recommending Andy; when I attempted to download it, I received a message that I hadn't enough internal memory. Not being any sort of techno-nerd, I Googled the problem and was referred to an app called APP 2 SD. This excellent app quickly and easily enabled me to transfer all my apps to the SD card, thus enabling me to download (and subsequently uninstall) Andy.

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