Now that iPhone 4S has broken sales records and Siri has her own talk dirty to me Siri meme, now is a good time to see if other apps out there can do what Siri does. Not everyone can afford the new iPhone after all. There are several free Android apps that let you use natural language to ask questions and issue voice commands, like Vlingo, Edwin, Speaktoit and Iris. Siri is fully integrated into the iPhone 4S, so it can do things none of these apps can, but as far as talking to your phone and having it do your bidding goes, these are pretty good.
Speaktoit, Iris and Edwin can even talk back to you. Vlingo doesn't speak. However, they all make it easy to make phone calls, send messages and get information like the weather or location of the closest cafe.
Iris and Edwin have the most in common with Siri, though for different reasons. Edwin uses the same knowledge engine as Siri, and Iris was made in direct response to Siri (Siri spelled backwards is Iris).
An Android development team, Dexetra, created Iris by incorporating voice input, text-to-speech features, and a lot of heuristic humor, the team posted on its blog.
Iris has the lowest rating in the Android app store at 3.8. It's in its alpha phase, and so could change quite a bit in the coming months of continued development. The next highest rated apps are, in order, Edwin, Vlingo and Speaktoit. Vlingo has gotten many thousands more reviews in the app store as well, and that makes its score more impressive. Furthermore, Vlingo is available from Apple, where it has a four star rating in the app store.
As with the smartphone war, speech to text technology still has plenty of room to grow, so these apps will no doubt get better. Tell us in the comments if you think Siri is a true breakthrough or if any of these apps can do just as good a job as she can.
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