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

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