As technology evolves, we (the humans) tend to expect more and more from it. Initially we were flabbergasted at the sight of touch screen phones that could be operated with a stylus. Then came a wave of touch screen phones that were capable of handling touch and gestures made by our fingers. Today, there are personal assistant apps that give you the convenience of dictating commands to the phone without having to type a single word or pressing any button(s). Welcome to the new age of high convenience and technological marvels.
Check out the following 6 virtual personal assistant apps that will change the way you operate your smartphones.
Named after the beautiful and most sensual character from the Halo franchise, this virtual personal assistant app is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now. This app was unveiled to the world at the Build Developer conference earlier this year. As of now the app is only available to users in the US, UK and China. However, a global release could be expected by early 2015.
Users have claimed that Cortana is superior than other assistant apps because it offers greater customization options, enhanced privacy features and abilities that indicate a combination of Siri’s personality with the brains of Google Now. The only issue that has been raised for this is that it takes a long time to connect to the cloud servers. But considering that this app has not been released globally, a wider perspective of this issue is yet to be understood.
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Samsung’s popular S-Voice virtual assistant app offers great convenience to users of the company’s smartphones. This app is compatible with most models. However, all Samsung phones that were released in and after 2013 have the S-Voice as a built-in app. It may not be as efficient as Siri or Google Now, but at least it gives Samsung users a personal assistant app that can work well with their smartphones.
Siri has become synonymous with Apple’s products mainly due to the integration of this amazing personal assistant app in the company’s devices. The first signs of this integration were evident in iOS 5 where Siri had become an important feature in the phone. The main differentiating factor was the app’s personality which seemed to appeal to everyone.
The Norwegian translation of the word “Siri” turns out to be “a beautiful woman who leads you to victory”. The performance of this app was splendid and it even managed to silence the critics with its rock solid voice-enabled search features. It was the next best thing to having a real live assistant at your disposal. Siri’s sense of humour made everyone forget (momentarily) that they were interacting with an app and not a human. When asked whether Siri knew Steve Jobs, the usual reply which was received stated, “Apple doesn’t tell me everything, you know.”
The only flaws that were identified for this device includes inefficiency in comprehending Indian accents, slow response times, and less information being furnished as compared to the results provided by Google’s search engine. It is interesting to note that if Apple had not acquired Siri, then it would have been made available for the Blackberry and Android platforms as well.
The Voice Mate was introduced with the LG G2 phone after being tweaked and renamed (earlier versions being the Quick Voice and Q Voice). This personal assistant app has decent comprehensions and interpretation abilities and can understand the contextual reference of the queries being provided by the user. It is interesting to note that this app was originally designed for supporting Korean language with the English version being developed in 2012.
The only complaints with this app include the inability to remember specific user information and location identification errors. With respect to the specific user information issue, the app cannot be trained to remember basic things such as which contact is your wife or your brother. You would have to provide the exact search terms to initiate an activity. The location issue pertains to the fact that a user cannot provide specific locations (office, home, market, etc.) to the app and this prevents faster navigation queries from being made.
“Google Now” first appeared in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and its immense popularity had led the company to introduce an iOS compatible version of the app which was provided as an update to the Google Search and Google Chrome Apps. This app was recognized as the “Innovation of the Year” for 2012 by Popular Science Magazine. Google Now deserves this appreciation because it has the fortune of being backed by the advanced searching capabilities of the Google Search Engine and the technological expertise of the company, which has enabled this app to thwart the competition by a great margin.
The only problems that are surfacing for this app relate to the app being more suited to certain phone models than others. For example, Motorola’s devices seem to be making the most out of this amazing app because of the rich stock android present in the phones. Devices that use a customized Android OS will likely face minor issues with this app, depending on the extent of customization done for the software.
Google Now also lacks personality (something that Siri is known for) and does not work when the phone is locked. These are areas that could be worked upon but in terms of information and relevancy of content, no app can match the efficiency of Google Now.
With so many personal assistant apps being released, it was but obvious that Blackberry would also come out with its own virtual assistant app. The company had sent out “teasers” for the app, but it was finally unveiled as the “BB Assistant” launched with the Blackberry Passport. Given the time that it took Blackberry to develop it, the company has assured that the app is able to maintain contextual relevancy for the queries supplied to it.
It is interesting to note that the app is more than capable of providing answers and additional context even if you ask the questions from a Bluetooth device without having any access to the screen. The app is smart enough to know the manner in which queries are being provided so that the response may follow in the same manner. For example, if you type a query, then you would get a written response. If you give voice commands, then you would get the result in a speech format. Blackberry has indeed done a splendid job, but due to the time it took for the company to release a personal assistant app, many Blackberry users have migrated to iOS and Android devices.
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