If there’s one thing that gets under the skin of Android fans more than anything, it’s Apple receiving glowing praise for something Android already does, or could easily do if anybody just put their mind to it. Not to be out-shined by the Siri voice recognition assistant, a major selling point of the new iPhone 4S, one Android developer team took it upon themselves to create an Android alternative, and did so in a mere eight hours, just to drive the point home.
The result is Iris (“Siri” backwards), created by Android dev team Dexetra, which says it was inspired by “the influx of tweets and posts on the ‘Awesome Siri’” that began flying around the web by the truckload.
“Suddenly, I got the urge to do something similar for Android,” writes Dexetra on its blog. “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.”
After only eight hours, Dexetra had “created a decent layout and design,” and added voice input, text-to-speech and “a lot of heuristic humor.”
Following a wave of positive feedback, Dexetra submitted Iris to the Android Market, where it is now available for download.
Users should be aware that Iris is still very much in alpha, and requires “Voice Search” and “TTS Library” to be installed on the handset for Iris to work properly. And even then, it’s still a bit quirky; as expected for an app developed in so little time, Iris doesn’t work nearly as well as Siri, which has draw praise across the board for its surprisingly solid functionality. Still, if Iris – or something like it – can get up to par with iPhone 4S-exclusive Siri, it would remove one of the primary reasons to purchase the new Apple handset, which is faster than the iPhone 4, and has an impressive 8-megapixel camera, but is already being outdone by a number of Android devices with better specs.
Download Iris from the Android Market here, and let us know what you think in the comments.