Android users feeling a bit left out after the release of the iPhone 4s and its Siri personal voice assistance technology, listen up. There’s a new Android female voice assistant in town and her name is Iris. That’s right, Iris is Siri spelled backwards.
Like Siri, the Iris app for Android has a big blue button located at the bottom of the screen. A single tap brings up an on-screen microphone. Speaking near the phone it is possible to ask questions as well as to direct the Iris app to execute commands, such as to search for something, etc. The voice recognition is quite good, and Iris responds quickly. The heavy lifting for the voice to text recognition happens on the server end, as well as the artificial intelligence involved.
Iris for Android is currently free in the Android Marketplace and is named as Alpha software. Even though it is an Alpha version, I have found the app itself to be very stable. The Iris app is a small download.
Q: “What is a tire?”
A: “Tire (a rubber cover that protects the wheel of a vehicle and absorbs shock)
Q: “What is Android?”
A: “Android is a software platform for mobile devices powered by the Linux kernel, initially developed by Google and later the Open Handset Alliance”
Q: “Is Google good or evil?”
A: “Better not tell you now. Ask Lucy if it is.”
Q: “Ask Lucy if Google is good or evil.”
A: “They are not available right now, but I wiill ask them later.”
Q: “What is the capital of Romania?”
A: “Bucharest, the capital of Romania”
Q: “Is blogging real news?”
A: “Signs point to yes. Ask Dancing Alice if it is.”
Q: “Who is Dancing Alice?”
A: “They are sometimes a client on the Internet. I will search for it.”
Q: “Where do you live?”
A: “I live inside a computer. Where are you?”
Q: “What is your sex?”
A: “I am a female.”
Q: “Are you a female?”
So as you can see with this random set of admittedly somewhat off-the-wall questions, the answers can be varied.
Iris is not yet perfect, but this is an app that every Android phone owner should immediately download. It’s possible to waste hours on end interacting with Iris.
Neither Iris or Siri are quite up to the standards of their Star Trek counterparts, but the technology is getting there. The real world is never like it is in the movies or TV, but it’s clear that this type of voice recognition/artificial intelligence technology combo has a bright and useful future.