Android devices have a number of advantages over the iPhone. Android phones ship with free Google Maps Navigation, while iPhone users have to find and purchase an app for their iPhone. Android phones also tend to have bigger screens and other more advanced specs. One source of iPhone envy for Android owners has appeared, though, and that’s Siri. But if you own an Android phone and want Siri, the good news is you don’t need an iPhone. There are a handful of apps on the Android Market that provide function similar to Siri. You don’t even need to fork over money – these apps are free. All that’s required is an Android phone and a broadband internet connection, either through your home Wi-Fi or cellular provider.
Vlingo Virtual Assistant
Before Siri was ever introduced, Android users had access to Vlingo. The service works very much like Siri, allowing users to speak a command to it and have it executed almost immediately. Vlingo handles everything from calendar appointments to updating social networking sites. The interface is arguably even better looking than Siri, so Vlingo is definitely worth a look.
Like Vlingo, Speaktoit Assistant nearly mimics everything that Siri does. Instead of presenting itself as an app like Siri and Vlingo, Speaktoit Assistant instead presents a human avatar for users to interact with. This assistant can do everything, including Google searches and launching apps. It’s not always as accurate as Siri, but it works well and the price can’t be beaten.
This app lacks the same polish as the others. In fact, the majority of a person’s time in Skyvi is spent repeating one’s self and getting answers that border on incoherent. This would amount to a waste of a person’s broadband internet connection if it wasn’t so amusing to play with.
Spell Siri backwards and you get… Iris! Iris imitates the Siri interface down to the blue circular avatar that users interact with. Although it’s not as polished as Siri, it gets bonus points for answers to questions in the context of the app instead of just launching the browser. For example, if you ask it for the lyrics to a song, it will recite the lyrics to you. This, of course, assumes they can be found. Like most of the other apps that try to imitate Siri, Iris can be hit-or-miss. It’s an interesting novelty though, and some might get more use out of it than others.
In the far reaches of the Android universe there is AQ for Droid. This is a very rudimentary Siri impersonator, an app that relies on check boxes, text boxes and a bland background for its GUI. Beyond all of these shortcomings, there is actually a relatively useful app to be found in AQ Droid. When it works, it can return surprisingly accurate and detailed results. The problem is that this rarely occurs. While one of Siri’s best properties is its ability to recognize and parse natural speech, this is one of AQ Droid’s biggest failures. In the time it takes for a person to get a proper response from AQ Droid, they can just search the web or launch an app themselves and save the trouble.
None of the Siri imitators are quite there yet in terms of functionality. Vlingo comes as close as any app to giving Android users the full experience, and most will find it serviceable. With Google rumored to be creating its own Siri competitor, users may not need to rely on third-party solutions like these for much longer before they have their own version of Siri.