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Siri Envy? Iris Brings Some Voice-Assistant Features to Android 402

Posted by timothy
from the backhanded-compliment dept.
Of all the upgrades that distinguish the new iPhone 4S from its predecessors, probably the feature that's gotten the most attention is the voice-based personal assistant app called Siri, which allows a user to accomplish certain tasks almost entirely by voice. A few days ago, as reported by TechCrunch, a team of Android developers came up with an Android equivalent to Siri called Iris (spell that backwards). It took them only 8 hours to have a working, if imperfect, app to play with and submit to the Android Market. This quick video review of Iris says the app is unpolished, but shows promise. For now, it generates some accurate results, and some amusing ones.
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Siri Envy? Iris Brings Some Voice-Assistant Features to Android

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  • No, Siri-ously (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xkr (786629) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @07:50PM (#37806870)

    This reminds me of when the Chinese tried to copy a 747. They made it out of wood, and got the center of gravity wrong. Is it a plane?

    In the youtube demo, it missed every question.

  • A few hours? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunfly (1248694) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @08:00PM (#37806936)

    mmmmk.

    The real Siri grew out of one of the largest artificial intelligence Darpa funded projects ever. Then SRI raised 24 million to continue development. Then Apple bought the company and threw a lot of man hours refining it further.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siri_(software) [wikipedia.org]

    And they successfully copied it in a few hours? Should fit right in on the Android app store.

  • Re:A few hours? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @08:10PM (#37806984) Homepage

    The core technology is available for download from SRI's website. Siri had exclusive licensing within a domain, but that was with the understanding that it would be cross-platform in the smart-phone sector. If Apple doesn't restart development for Android etc., it may make an interesting case whether they can keep exclusivity on non-iOs platforms.

  • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @08:28PM (#37807068) Journal

    I'm still forced to have BB for work, but my wife has android. She has had a few voice apps and not sure which one she is currently using, but I think it may be called something like vlingo (or at least one of them was). She now does just about everything by voice. When she is in the car she turns on a setting and whenever she receives a text the phone announces who sent the text and reads it to her, etc, etc, etc.

    Haven't seen Siri, but seems Android has "had some apps for that" for some time.

  • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @08:45PM (#37807146) Homepage

    Android voice recognition is equivalent to voice commands. "Open Internet Explorer... Highlight Search Box... Type 'weather, return.'"

    Siri is a heck of a lot more interesting. Siri is a first grasp at understanding intent. "Is it going to rain tomorrow?" "Text my wife that I'll be there in 5 minutes." "Remind me at 6PM tomorrow to call the doctor." "How do I get home?"

    Now, it's not perfect. Siri is damned slow, when it runs at all. And it works a lot better in the sorts of quiet places where you probably shouldn't be talking into a phone. And it was bought by apple, rather than being initially developed by them. But it's interesting in that it forms relational databases about the world around you, and starts to correlate bits of information. It's not just voice recognition, it's meaning recognition.

  • Re:Just like Siri... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Saturday October 22, 2011 @09:06PM (#37807240) Homepage

    If it responds more than 25% of the time with a useful response, then yes indeed it is nothing like Siri.

    If it responds with a useful response less than 25% of the time, then yeah it is pretty much the same.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @09:09PM (#37807256)

    Like Apple did when they introduced Siri? ...cuz, Android had voice recognition and commands long ago. Admittedly, Siri is superior... now. But, DON'T EVEN.

    Are you sure about that? Apple released Voice control with the iPhone 3GS on June 19, 2009 and demoed it on Jun 8, 2009. Google followed with Voice Commands in Froyo (2.2) about a year later but supporting only a fraction of the languages supported by the Apple feature.

    Siri is more advanced than Voice Control/Voice Commands in that it understands natural language, can remember things like who your wife is, where your work is and where home is and then follow commands in the future when you mention those things. It also is able to follow the context of a conversation. So if you ask about London, England in the previous question and then ask "What's the weather like today", Siri infers that you are asking about London instead of where you currently are unless if you say "What's the weather like here?".

    Siri is the off shoot of work at DARPA with SRI international on the PAL/CALO project. PAL stand for Personal Assistant that Learns. Good luck implementing AI in a couple of days.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @09:33PM (#37807374)

    Those are all things you can do with Google Voice Actions. Admittedly you're restricted in terms of how you phrase it, but it's dishonest to suggest that any of that stuff doesn't work with Google Voice Actions.

    Siri is ultimately at a disadvantage for taking that route, because ultimately it has to have much better comprehension of the spoken words as it can't count on matching just most of the command before worrying about what to do with the input. Basically it's the difference between Palm's Graffiti and whatever you call the MS Win CE version that was much more flexible in how the user drew the letters.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @11:51PM (#37807818) Homepage Journal

    Is doing it with a portable CPU supposed to mean it's novel?

    Dragon Naturally Speaking [wikipedia.org].

    Why is every generation so naive as to think their use of an old technology is always revolutionary instead of evolutionary? Why the incessant greedy claims of "my favourite brand did it first" in the face of facts?

    No doubt Siri has advanced and evolved compared to early relases of Dragon, but people have been working on the idea and enhancing long before your iPhone existed.

    You young/'uns really need to do more reading up on relevant histry and come to the realization that the only thing holding us back has been lack of portable CPU power. A buddy of mine combined his AI and graphics classes, for example, coming up with a project that did image analysis to identify the human, analyze it, and target the torso. It took over 8 hours to run on the old 1MIP VAX, but it did work. Audio analysis was being done (i.e. voice recognition), just far from realtime.

    Show a little respect.

    Now get off my lawn. :p

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @02:28AM (#37808144)

    Probably 33% of Siri's utility right there, completely overlooked by everyone.

    That remaining 67% is pretty important, it turns out. Google's voice-search app has been available for a long time on the iPhone as well, but it doesn't know what to do with Remind me to pick up lettuce at the grocery store or Wake me in two hours. (Also, and sadly typical of Google these days, its usability has degraded over time due to Google apparently hiring a team of monkeys on meth to maintain it, but that's neither here nor there.)

    I could point to several posts I made when the 4S was announced (on other forums with other account names) mocking the idea behind Siri and speech recognition in general. I got my phone a couple of days ago, and I am singing a different tune now. Siri is unquestionably more useful than a simple voice-search app.

    Siri is not "awesome" by any means... but, because it has a ridiculously good speech recognizer, and because its back end runs on a central server with every single instance of attempted usage available to the developers for refinement and curation, I believe it will indeed reach the "awesome" level eventually. Search is nowhere near the most important part of a system like this.

  • Re:Just like Siri... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Sunday October 23, 2011 @09:43AM (#37809238) Homepage
    Really? Then you probably haven't used it in any practical way. Yesterday I asked "what's the circumference of a circle of diameter 3cm?". Try it. Now think about the practical applications, particularly when it moves out of Beta and it supports a decent hands-free way of addressing (cue Scottie "Computerrrr..."). I already use Google and Wolfram Alpha for practically any query when I'm at a computer, having an effective interface to do the same thing when I'm doing a practical task is amazing. I realise Apple didn't invent it, but as usual they've made it practical and widely available.

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