- 30 January 2012
- By John Howell
If you own an iPhone 4S you may have impressed your friends (or perhaps not) with the built in, voice-driven personal assistant called Siri. You can ask it to book appointments, call people, search nearby restaurants, make calculations, and a great deal more. Most of the time it gets it right too. Now Siri has an Android rival called Evi, and if first impressions are anything to go by, it's an impressive competitor - accurate and knowledgeable. While Apple's Siri gets a lot of its information from the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine, Evi sources its material from the True Knowledge engine (very similar search engines that provide similar results)
I gave it a spin and was suitably impressed. For example, you could hit it with any of these questions and get sensible answers: "Who is the Prime Minister of Britain?", "Give me a recipe for scrambled eggs?", "What is the nearest bank?","Where can I buy a fridge?", "What is the population of Canada?" or "Why am I talking to my phone?"
Evi is in beta at the moment, so it isn't as integrated into the phone's software as Siri is (you can't access your Google calendar yet, for instance) but no doubt this and more will appear in the next release. It's also very popular too, so responses are slow as Evi's servers are being overloaded (similar to what happened to Siri when it was first launched).
Intelligent voice recognition software has been around for a while, but even though Android and Windows phones have had basic voice recognition for ages, it has taken the massive marketing clout of Apple to make it suddenly popular. I was reading the other day that Siri actually used to be a popular app in the App Store before the app creator was bought out by Apple. Apple simply repackaged Siri, claimed they invented the whole thing, and then released it integrated into the iPhone 4S operating system - which makes the whole iPhone 4S only restriction for Siri even more manipulative on their part - it was working fine on older models before they released the iPhone 4S. I guess they wanted to sell more iPhone 4Ss instead (something, of course, they have achieved on a grand scale).
So if you want to talk to your mobile phone (and let's face it, who wouldn't want to have a conversation with a shiny slab of plastic, glass and aluminium? God knows I do), check out Evi. Evi can be downloaded from the Android Market for free. iPhone users can also take it for a spin, and unlike Siri, which Apple has restricted to the their latest model only, Evi is available to all iPhone users for 99 cents.
Watch the YouTube videos below to get an overview of what it can do. You'll be talking to your phone in no time.
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