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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Voice Recognition Apps -- From Siri to Android

   
Author Topic: Voice Recognition Apps -- From Siri to Android
Aros
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So, Siri looks pretty cool. I'm way too much of an Android guy to consider switching, but it's a neat advance in software (and probably the new iPhone's only real selling point IMHO).

It seems like Siri is pretty similar to a number of existing Android apps, though it's certainly more polished. Vlingo, Edwin, and Speaktoit are all being touted as similar by the press. At the least, they're rather fun to play with.

Speaktoit's virtual assistant is a cute way to go about it, and it can really understand a lot of questions. It also can get a little snarky, like Siri. I'll have to play with all three for a few days and see if any are worth my precious SD card space.

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Orincoro
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The new iphone has a few other selling points. Lots of processor power, great camera, and they're world phones as well, so you can buy them unlocked (good news for me).
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fugu13
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Yep. Top speeds (above all Android phones) at GLBenchmark and at the Sunspider browser benchmarks. Incredible digital video quality, too, especially considering the price.
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MattP
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quote:
Top speeds (above all Android phones) at GLBenchmark
Well, above all Android phones with the same screen resolution, of which there are none. The 1-year-old Galaxy S2 actually out-scores it, albeit with a screen that has fewer pixels to push around. It'll be interesting to see how the Samsung (Nexus/Galaxy/Droid) Prime does. It'll be announced tomorrow night, and should ship within the next few weeks.
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fugu13
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Sorry, I was speaking of the offscreen benchmarks specifically. Some results (including another browser benchmark): http://www.tncnewscentral.com/2011/10/iphone-4s-glbenchmarks-vs-galaxy-sii/

The Galaxy S2 is well under the iPhone 4s on those.

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Aros
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Didn't know that this was turning into an Apple rally. Here's the Engadget review:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/14/iphone-4s-review/

So, excitement for the iLegions, but not much impressive for the real nerds. I think Samsung, with its real 4G and AMOLED display, is still the way to go. Oh yeah, and the open source thing.

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Tarrsk
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Yeah, because anyone who'd buy a phone that doesn't win in the benchmark and feature list wars is obviously a mindless member of a "legion."

(Also, is there anything sadder than nerds being exclusionary? "Real nerds"? Really?)

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fugu13
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Hey, we're just pointing out there are other selling points. And I've played with Android phones; they're nice, but they're not nearly as polished as iOS. The latest release of Windows Phone is getting there, but Android has a lot further to go.

There's a reason that despite Android's good sales records, as a percentage of browser market share, it remains far below the iPhone: people buy the iPhone to use it, while a lot of people are buying the Android and then not using it (as anything other than a basic phone).

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Aros
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I understand, fugu. But I wasn't trying to debate the merits of each platform (don't talk about religion, politics, or Apple). I merely though the subject of Siri alternatives was interesting. I'd imagine that most people that are interested enough have either selected a platform and are unlikely to be swayed.

As far as Apple goes, I concede that they will continue to hold market share and be a viable alternative to the mainstream technology companies. Their tech is polished and consumers who don't mind the limitations of single source exclusivity have the opportunity to enjoy an early-adopter advantage.

As an Android user, I will be unable to use many of Apple's advances until several years later. Unfortunately for Apple, however, the market has (mostly) caught up. But without constant innovation Apple cannot retain a competitive edge, as its business model is basically "us-versus-the-rest-of-industry". I don't feel that their R&D budget can compete over the long-term.

[ October 18, 2011, 02:11 PM: Message edited by: Aros ]

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Aros
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Back to voice-recognition. I haven't gotten to play with Siri yet, but I have played with Vlingo, Edwin, and Speaktoit.

Vlingo is a good voice-command task manager. It is really polished. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the data-seeking functions of the other programs in question. It's merely "open this", "text this", "call this person". It can listen and "wake up" in a driving-mode, which might be handy for hands-free.

Edwin does the whole Siri package, but it is really buggy and doesn't have a wide-variety of programming. It should be considered a work-in-progress.

Speaktoit provides a "virtual assistant" with a cute avatar that you can customize. It can tie in to most of your programs, make texts and phone calls, update social networking, play music from your library, schedule appointments, take messages, google stuff, find details (capitals, movie release dates, etc), and answer weird questions (will you marry me?). Unfortunately, it is still a little buggy. If someone has multiple phone numbers, for example, it selects the first one without prompting -- even ignoring if the second one is set to default. But it's fun to play with.

In the end, I guess it only matters if you'd use the program regularly. Siri definitely seems more polished, but I'm not certain if it's much more than a novelty. As far as the Android crowd goes, I'm going to keep playing with Speaktoit. Though it has flaws, it's good at most of what it seeks out to do. And they've added two improvements just in the last week (music and "conversation mode"), so hopefully it'll get a little more full-featured.

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Jhai
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I got the iphone 4s on Friday, and have been playing around with Siri ever since. And I'm completely blown away.

I truly didn't think this sort of voice recognition tech would be available for at least a few more years. In four days of asking every question I could conceive of Siri has misheard only <em>two</em> questions (excluding names) - and on a second try with those questions, she got them correct.

She's pretty good with names, generally - even handles my Indian last name well, although she keeps interpreting my husband's name, Abhi, as "A B", which is understandable, I guess. But that problem was easily solved by telling her to simply call my husband - which is where the real power of this software becomes clear.

Siri asked who my husband was, I told her "Abhi *last name*", she told me she was slightly confused by my response, and returned a list of all of the people with that last name in my phone book. I selected his name, she told me she was noting the relationship, and done. Easy, intuitive, and very, very user-friendly.

As far as answering questions, well, she's very good at parsing them. Ask for dog food, she'll show you the closest pet stores. Ask for the hour-by-hour weather in San Francisco tomorrow, and she'll show you the breakdown. There's a bit of a break-down when you ask for comparative questions - she doesn't understand "What's the best mattress to buy?", but she'll show you stores to buy mattresses and offer to run a search on that phrase.

Really, the <em>only</em> thing I'm a bit disappointed about is the lack of mass-transit integration. I'd love to be able to ask when the next train to SF is, and have her figure out which station I'm currently standing on, then answer the question, but that's a no go.

As far as the other specs go - well, I'm quite impressed by the processing speed (I'm upgrading from a 3). If I'm at home with the wifi, it's as fast to do anything web-related on my phone as my computer, and my apps load very quick. And the camera is just unbelievable - there is no reason to carry around any other camera less than a digital SLR now (and the DSLR & its lens will only come out on trips where I'm expecting to want to take a lot of photos).

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Aros
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Well, voice recognition has been a part of Android for the last few releases. From what I hear, the speech-to-text of Apple is comparable to Android (with Microsoft following a distant third). With Speaktoit, it has gotten last names correct every time. Then again, I am generally dealing with Anglo-Saxon names.

I'd say that 90% of my text messages don't require correction with Android. I'll be REALLY impressed when either platform can provide proper capitalization and punctuation.

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Tarrsk
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Voice recognition isn't really the selling point of Siri, though, is it? I mean, obviously Siri has voice recognition technology, but as you note, Android phones (and, for that matter, the iPhone itself) have had voice recognition for several years now. Longer, if you count the Asian markets.

What Siri promises is more than voice command. It's supposed to be the most advanced AI-based language parser on the open market. From what I've read on tech blogs (and a few personal anecdotes from friends who have purchased the 4S), Siri's capabilities in that respect are rather astounding. It's one thing to have a voice input system that allows you to say, "Call Sarah" and have it dial Sarah's number. It's another thing entirely to be able to say "Remind me to call my wife when I get home," have the software correctly interpret that as "Upon arrival at the GPS coordinates associated with <home,> issue audio reminder for <user> to call contact associated with the terminology <user's wife>," and then vocalize the response: "OK, Bob, I'll remind you to call Sarah when you get home."

From the relatively little I've seen of Siri, that sort of functionality is among its most basic.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Tarrsk:
It's one thing to have a voice input system that allows you to say, "Call Sarah" and have it dial Sarah's number. It's another thing entirely to be able to say "Remind me to call my wife when I get home," have the software correctly interpret that as "Upon arrival at the GPS coordinates associated with <home,> issue audio reminder for <user> to call contact associated with the terminology <user's wife>," and then vocalize the response: "OK, Bob, I'll remind you to call Sarah when you get home."

Well put.

(And I don't own any kind of smartphone.)

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Parkour
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If I had some more money, I would definitely be upgrading to a new phone specifically for Siri. I have been Android for years and it is tempting enough to get me back.
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Tarrsk:

What Siri promises is more than voice command. It's supposed to be the most advanced AI-based language parser on the open market. From what I've read on tech blogs (and a few personal anecdotes from friends who have purchased the 4S), Siri's capabilities in that respect are rather astounding. It's one thing to have a voice input system that allows you to say, "Call Sarah" and have it dial Sarah's number. It's another thing entirely to be able to say "Remind me to call my wife when I get home," have the software correctly interpret that as "Upon arrival at the GPS coordinates associated with <home,> issue audio reminder for <user> to call contact associated with the terminology <user's wife>," and then vocalize the response: "OK, Bob, I'll remind you to call Sarah when you get home."

Yes, I concur. Speaktoit is the closest competitor, and it's pretty primitive in comparison. It's pretty amazing, however, -- I can ask it to schedule an appointment for me in plain language, and it understands. But some of the context (wife = contact name, "when I get home" = when GPS = location = home, etc) isn't there. I can ask it to take a note, or I can ask it the release date of a particular movie.

I would like to play with Siri to compare, however.

My point before is that the real improvement with the 4s seems (to me) to be mostly a software improvement. Siri seems to be as revolutionary to software engineering as original iPhone was to hardware engineering. I guess it's based on an old DARPA project. I'm not making light on the hardware . . . I'm astonished by the software.

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Mucus
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On a bit of a different note, I love how the competition at the top end is pushing down the prices and improving the features so rapidly at the, well, cheaper end that I prefer.

With the Android Prime coming, I got a great deal (for Canada anyways) on a Nexus S, no contract. And my cell-phone bill is $29/month total for unlimited data, when just a couple years ago you probably couldn't do less than $60 or $80 per month in Canada.

So you guys, keep it up [Smile]

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Samprimary
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even if you are on the cheaper end (which is the more sane route, congratulations on avoiding the techlust driven by the desire to wave around our mobile class status indicators) try to grab an unlimited data plan if you still can and NEVER LET IT GO EVER EVER
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Tarrsk:
Voice recognition isn't really the selling point of Siri, though, is it? I mean, obviously Siri has voice recognition technology, but as you note, Android phones (and, for that matter, the iPhone itself) have had voice recognition for several years now. Longer, if you count the Asian markets.

What Siri promises is more than voice command. It's supposed to be the most advanced AI-based language parser on the open market. From what I've read on tech blogs (and a few personal anecdotes from friends who have purchased the 4S), Siri's capabilities in that respect are rather astounding. It's one thing to have a voice input system that allows you to say, "Call Sarah" and have it dial Sarah's number. It's another thing entirely to be able to say "Remind me to call my wife when I get home," have the software correctly interpret that as "Upon arrival at the GPS coordinates associated with <home,> issue audio reminder for <user> to call contact associated with the terminology <user's wife>," and then vocalize the response: "OK, Bob, I'll remind you to call Sarah when you get home."

From the relatively little I've seen of Siri, that sort of functionality is among its most basic.

I was getting ready to say that this doesn't sound any more impressive than what my Droid can do...but what you describe is pretty damned nifty.

I've rarely had any accuracy issues with my Droid, I'd say it gets things right probably 90% of the time, and I like how it helps me voice search for things on the internet or with directions that connect right to Google Maps navigation.

But it sounds like the iphone might be going a step further.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
... try to grab an unlimited data plan if you still can and NEVER LET IT GO EVER EVER

Oh, believe me. I'm going to be all over this when I find a grandfatherable(?) plan in my area.
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KirKis
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Would anyone want to rename her to Jane if it was possible?
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Raymond Arnold
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Fun fact:

If your name is Dave, and you ask Siri to 'Open the Pod Bay Doors' she says:

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

"Are you happy now?"

Whereas if your name is not Dave, she says:

"That's it, I'm reporting you to the artificial intelligence agency for harassment."

And if you ask her again she just says

"...sigh..."

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odouls268
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quote:
Originally posted by Tarrsk:
Voice recognition isn't really the selling point of Siri, though, is it? I mean, obviously Siri has voice recognition technology, but as you note, Android phones (and, for that matter, the iPhone itself) have had voice recognition for several years now. Longer, if you count the Asian markets.

What Siri promises is more than voice command. It's supposed to be the most advanced AI-based language parser on the open market. From what I've read on tech blogs (and a few personal anecdotes from friends who have purchased the 4S), Siri's capabilities in that respect are rather astounding. It's one thing to have a voice input system that allows you to say, "Call Sarah" and have it dial Sarah's number. It's another thing entirely to be able to say "Remind me to call my wife when I get home," have the software correctly interpret that as "Upon arrival at the GPS coordinates associated with <home,> issue audio reminder for <user> to call contact associated with the terminology <user's wife>," and then vocalize the response: "OK, Bob, I'll remind you to call Sarah when you get home."

From the relatively little I've seen of Siri, that sort of functionality is among its most basic.

Doesn't it creep you out just a little that there are tiny people living in your phone? I mean, you put that thing in your pocket. It's eerie.
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Lyrhawn
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If Majel Barrett were still alive, I would pay untold sums of money to have her be the voice of my phone.

I would, however, also pay far less money but still a considerably amount to have one the subsequent computer voices, like Nana Visitor, be the voice of my phone.

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Orincoro
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Nana Visitor I actually prefer as a computer voice. She was always a little quirkier than Barrett- who I always thought was a little too aristocratic sounding.

But personally I would go for the Vulcan computer voice in Star Trek IV, that tinny restrained unnaturally pitched male voice.

"How... doyoufeel?"

"How... doyoufeel??"

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odouls268
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Nana Visitor I actually prefer as a computer voice. She was always a little quirkier than Barrett- who I always thought was a little too aristocratic sounding.

But personally I would go for the Vulcan computer voice in Star Trek IV, that tinny restrained unnaturally pitched male voice.

"How... doyoufeel?"

"How... doyoufeel??"

Damn, I'd go for that too. Somewhere RIGHT NOW someone has just stolen this idea and is making an app for it. They're going to be the next Zuckerberg
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
She was always a little quirkier than Barrett- who I always thought was a little too aristocratic sounding.

There will be no dissing of Majel. [Razz]
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Mucus
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Could be interesting since there are so many malfunctioning computer lines available.

"Safety protocols off-line"
*phone shocks you*

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Orincoro
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The computer dialogue was a fairly good indication of the laziness of the writing, and or the hardness of the sci-fi in any particular episode.

In a hard sci-fi episode, the computer would only answer a direct question with the minimum information. In a soft sci-fi episode, the computer would offer up additional info and tips.

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Lyrhawn
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I've seen hacked iPhones that have an LCARS interface.

I'd pay good money for one of those too.

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Tarrsk
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Forget any of the Trek computer voices. I'd pay good money to have Ellen McLain turn my iPhone into GLaDOS.

"Just wanted to remind you to take out the trash, since you apparently don't do it more than once a fortnight. Oh, good, there you go. *clap... clap... clap* Ah, my slow clap processor made it into this thing, at least we have that."

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Mr. Y
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I would like my phone to sound like Holly.
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