My son’s new iPhone 4S does one thing my Android can’t: talk back to us.
Last Friday, after my son received his new iPhone, Siri was within minutes responding to spoken questions talking back to us, providing turn by turn driving directions and sending messages dictated to it. You can ask Siri whether you need to wear a raincoat, to remind to buy batteries on the way home from work, and to dial your mother, brother or wife.
Siri even displays a sense of humor, responding to a question whether it is a man or woman by saying it, too, wondered.
Siri uses technology provided by Nuance, the company that makes Dragon Naturally Speaking software.
I spent a little time this weekend trying to replicate what Siri does for the iphone by downloading couple voice-command apps to my Android. Vlingo, perhaps the best known of the voice apps, Vlingo is pretty good but no match for Siri.
The difference is that Siri is integrated into the iPhone 4S’s iOS5 operating system. So from the main screen in the iPhone, you can tell your phone to dial a contact, send a text, or find out the names of the pro basketball teams in California. Siri either executes the command or searches the web for an answer.
In contrast, Vlingo and other Android are separate apps made by different software vendors. For example, if you want to search the web you need to Google Voice Search works well. But it’s a separate app. If you want to send a text message, to dictate a text message, you have to start Vlingo—and step that’s not necessary on the iPhone. And, after you dictate your message, you must click the send button and cannot just say “send.”
Siri is seamless and slick. Android voice-command apps are klunky.
The good news for Android users is that Android phones are outselling iPhones two to one. So even if Apple closes the gap, Google Android will probably remain more popular. It’s unlikely that iPhone’s lead in voice commanded phones will last.