Apple launched the iPhone 4S on October 4. One of the main features of the new smartphone was Siri, the voice-controlled assistant of the 4S – touted as the most amazing thing about the iPhone yet.
Sure, Siri was not perfect as early reviewers came to discover, but her quirks added to her allure. She was, nonetheless, amazing at understanding natural language beyond that of the ability previous voice assistants have previously shown. Because of this, Siri was touted as not only the feature that set the iPhone 4S apart from earlier versions of the Apple smartphone but also from all other smartphone currently available.
But what’s this? We hear that there’s already a system aiming to rival Siri for Android smartphones. It’s named Iris, which when read backwards explains what it is trying to do: subvert Siri. Not that Android (or even early Windows systems for mobile devices) did not already have voice recognition technology.
One of the most surprising things about Iris is that it was created in just 8 hours by the small team of Android developers at Dexetra. It began as a seemingly just-for-fun project during a lazy day at the office at Dexetra, reports say. The creation of Iris was apparently inspired by “the influx of tweets and posts on the ‘Awesome Siri’”. After reading these tweets about the “Awesome Siri”, Dexetra said that they suddenly “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,” Dexetra said.
According to the development team, they “created a decent layout and design” with voice input, text-to-speech topped off with “a lot of heuristic humor” in just 8 hours.
On their blog, Dexetra said:
“When we started seeing results, everyone got excited and started a high speed coding race. In no time, we added Voice input, Text-to-speech, also a lot of hueristic humor into Iris. Not until late evening we decided on the name “iris”, which would be Siri in reverse. And we also reverse engineered a crazy expansion – Intelligent Rival Imitator of Siri. We were still in the fun mode, but when we started using it the results were actually good, really good.”
Iris is currently available on the Android Market, but as an early alpha still. It also needs TTS and Voice Search to be installed on the Android device it is installed on. But despite the lack of polish, it is a great effort considering the small team which made it and the short time it took them to make this initial attempt.
Imagine what could be done with Iris, how much it could be developed, if more resources from say deep-pocketed manufacturers like Samsung or HTC or Google itself are poured to continue to improve it.
Via Dexetra Blog