Last week, we wrote a particularly tub-thumping opinion piece stating that’s Apple’s Siri voice assistant for iOS 5 was unlikely to be as revolutionary as had been claimed. This is mainly because Google’s Voice function for Android has already been pretty successful in Siri’s arena. The phenomenally good Google Translate and Vlingo make great use of its voice recognition skills but there’s another contender for the Android PA crown and it goes by the name of Speaktoit Assistant.
Speaktoit Assistant is a funny old thing. First off, it greets you with an amply proportioned avatar once you log in without ever really explaining why she’s there. You can switch to an Ask Jeeves style butler or even design your own assistant but we suppose talking to a phone is a weird experience anyway, so why not rank up the whole thing a few more crazy notches?
The app works by you quite literally asking your phone a question and then waiting for it to transcribe your words and find the answer. Ask, “Where am I?” and you’ll be greeted with a Google Map stating your current location. Ask, “Is it going to rain today?” and you’ll get the weather forecast. So far, so good.
Errors naturally start to kick in when you ask more complicated questions. This isn’t all Speaktoit’s fault, Google Voice has a tough time of understanding uncommon phrases, see the picture at the top of this article for an idea of what happened when we cheekily asked, “How awesome is Life Of Android?” That was the clearest transcription we got after five questions.
Even with properly comprehensible, and sensible questions, you won’t necessarily get the response you want. Having posed the moderately difficult query of ‘Who won Wimbledon this year?”, all we were met with was a Google Search which we frankly could have done ourselves in half the time. The same went for several other general knowledge questions.
On the other hand, when we asked for the app to run personal reminders and Facebook status updates that worked fine, so it’s well and truly a mixed bag that Speaktoit offers. The only question that really counts when talking about this occasionally stellar app however, is whether you’d actually use it on a regular basis? We probably won’t, Vlingo is the better competitor in our opinion, but we reckon many Android users will doubtless give Speaktoit a go and may even get most of what they need out of it.
The Bottom Line
A good voice assistant app but Vlingo remains Siri’s greatest Android rival.
Version reviewed 0.2.3
Requires Android 2.1 or higher