Android Developers Create Siri Rival “Iris” in Less Than 8 Hours

by: Matthew SabatiniOctober 24, 2011

The newest feature to hit smartphones is, as I like to call it, the imaginary friend feature. Now, you never have to talk to anyone again–evar. Your phone can do it for you. But, seriously, let me give you a little background about this new feature:

  • October 14 – Apple introduces Siri, “Your Personal Assistant”
  • October 19 – Andy Rubin talks at AsiaD and says, “People should talk to people.”
  • Now – Iris. (alpha) hits the Android Market and provides Siri-like functionality


When iOS 5 was released, Apple put much emphasis on its new feature called Siri:

“Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”

Although it may seem a bit embarrassing to be having a conversation with your phone, Siri has become one of the most fascinating new smartphone features yet. There’s no doubt that Android users were left a little disappointed with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich’s “normal” voice commands.  But, app developer Dexetra went to work.

“It started out as a lazy Friday with half our team missing, the influx of tweets and posts on the ‘Awesome Siri’ were flying everywhere,” reads the company blog on October 14. “Suddenly, I got the urge to do something similar for Android. Since we have been working on NLP and Machine learning for over an year now, I had a crazy belief that I could pull this off. Somehow I managed to write a tiny engine that could answer your questions, digging the results from the web.”

In just 8 hours, they had a fully functional, consumer-ready product that allowed for complete interaction and conversations with Iris. The app’s full description on Android Market is as follows:

Iris makes your phone talk on topics ranging from Einstein to Mozart. Yeah, Iris is Siri in reverse. Inspired from the iPhone feature Siri, Iris interacts with you in voice.

Gone are the days when you “Google searched” for information. Just “ask” Iris. She will talk to you on any topic. Ranging from Philosophy, Culture, History, science to general conversation.

Note: You need to have “Voice Search” and “TTS library” installed in your phone for Iris to work. Most phones have theis pre-installed, but if not, install them from Android market before you try Iris.

In my use with the app – I was highly impressed. Asking it extremely difficult questions like “what is the meaning of life,” or “what is best in life,” or “are you sentient” all provided excellent answers. Truly awesome and a lot of fun!

What can it do? 

  • Voice Actions
  • Call someone
  • Text someone
  • Search something (on the web)
  • Lookup for a contact
  • Ice cream Sandwich Inspired UI
  • New Design, new logo

NOTE: New Permissions for voice dialing, texting, searching and contacts look up


You can download the iris. (alpha) app for Android straight and free from the Android Market.  The app works with handsets running Android 2.1 or higher.

Behold the power of Android and its genius, agile developers! This one is in alpha stage, but it’s only going to get better folks! Check it out now. Any thoughts?

Source: Tom’s Guide

  • Abc

    ICS gave us a brand new UI and, together with the new Nexus, high speed photography – one of the iPhone 4S’s main claims. Now there is a Siri equivalent for Android. It might be “rough around the edges” – but it will only get better – and it won’t be restricted to the latest model of phone as it is in the Apple world. As far as I’m concerned, the iPhone is a busted flush!

    • You are right on several levels –
      1. the iPhone is a “busted flush”
      2. Galaxy Nexus takes very fast pictures & smooth video that both look to be quite good
      3. Iris is a bit rough, but i’ve been playing with it all day, and have to say I am very impressed. It will only get better and better!
      4. ICS is probably 2 years ahead of any other operating system in the world

      Things are about to get very, very interesting!

      • I have been playing with iris all weekend, and I am very impressed with it too. It does look a lot like ICS, which is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Iris?! Bahaha. Honestly, I was like, is it April 1st :s

  • Jaonea

    u kidding right? :D oh i smell another law suit

  • Chris Norris

    wow this works really well on my sony xperia mini pro – very impressed guys.

  • Why this hype about Iris? SpeakToIt have existed for a while now so this is nothing new………

  • DDK

    They should make this app both text and voice. It’d be better.

  • I downloaded Iris into my YP-G70, and it is JUNK. The AI is half retarded, and it’s not very accurate in recognizing what I am saying.

  • Beelzebub

    Alas the author is some kind of religious nutjob. Iris keeps indoctrinating you with church and jesus and shit and I really don’t want my phone or some stupid wizard running on it doing that. Uninstalled and sent to software hell where it belongs

  • Against_Hype_aka_Beelezebub

    I correct my previous statement. it’s not the religious delusion of the app author, it’s the delusion of the ALICE chatbot code author. But here’s the problem: They all recycle this old pseudo-A.I.-Eliza-heir “ALICE” to pimp Google’s voice control to resemble something like Siri. But it just doesn’t work this way, getting close to Siri needs invention, not recycling. The way it is, you get a patchwork of not very well integrated parts which is pretty much the opposite of Siri, which excels by OS integration and contextual awareness, all things Android and the recycled legacy code that makes up the Siri clones are not made for.

    Besides that, there are like 10 Siri clones in the market and Iris was certainly not the first one (Vlingo anyone?). The difference is that the Siri makers know how to manipulate the media in quite annoying and market-distorting ways like luring blogs like this one into eating the story they invented (and you guys swallowed it without the least bit of research, great work!!), they vandalize Wikipedia for their purposes and all that. IMO this should not be rewarded by giving them the attention they are trying to trick us into. The app does not live up to that at all. Siri sucks just as much (if not more) than all other Android Siri clones

  • Answered questions fairly well on my Lenovo ThinkPad w/Android 3.2 – but would not speak the answers ;(

  • Galaxys3ftw

    Now android smartphones have everything bhahahahaha. Good bye iphone 4s, iphone 5, and iphone 6. The samsung galaxy s3 will beat even the future iphones, and for the first time ever samsung will be making most of the samsung galaxy s3’s body waterproof!

  • Rusty Gray

    vlingo works just fine