Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Skyvi and Evi - Siri for Android?

I've been playing with two apps for Android that mimic what Siri does for iPhone.  You know Siri, right? The sassy little app that responds to your requests and commands.  Well, Skyvi and Evi try to do the same thing.  How do they stack up?  Let's see...


Skyvi (free) - Very quick to respond, even in low data areas.  That is, it seems to be able to respond even when a data connection is tough to come by (something that happens frequently in Lower Arkansas).  I asked it to "find McDonalds" and within seconds, the female robot voice responded with WHERE it was and then provided touchable icons to get me there, based on which one I wanted.  I asked, "How are you?"  Skyvi responded, "You know, you deserve to have fun! Just say: Tell me when I am near Fun."

I tied to repeat what it had said, but was laughing so hard, my response came out somewhat garbled.  Skyvi replied, "Hum. Holla if you need directions!"  HOLLA!?  Awesome.

I asked it to "Create a meeting at 1pm in Hope Arkansas."  It understood all of the words, but simply asked me, "What do you do in your spare time."  That's not very Siri-like.  So, I tried, "create an appointment," to which Skyvi answered, "I don't think many people do that."

So, for lunch, I headed out to Mickey D's and put Skyvi to the test:

David (Me): "I'm hungry."
Skyvi: "What will you be eating?" (If I knew, I wouldn't be asking you! - I thought)
D: "Burger"
S: "How does it taste?" (At this point, I'm a little peeved.)
D: "I don't know. Find a burger joint."
S: "Would you like to know? That input matched my default category." (What the...??)
D: "Okayyyy..."
S: "Here's something: Beacons can help you find your way..." (then it blathered on about beacon features. I was hoping it was BACON... Nope)
D: "Find McDonalds"
S: "I found McDonald's 2.5 miles from you." And then it also listed other area eateries, which I thought was a nice touch.

D: "Find El Agaves" (A local Mexican food joint)
S: "I couldn't find any el agave within 30 miles..." (Stupid computer)

D: "Find Holiday Inn"
S: "I found Holiday Inn Express 2.9 miles from you."  (Each time it finds something, it provides links for calling, directions, a quick map, or allows you to create a beacon for that location)

From there, I tried Florist, Pharmacy, Wal-Mart.  Each time, it came back with an appropriate response and several locations.  And then, I got silly...

D: "Where to babies come from?"
S: "From their mothers." (Courtesy of Wolfram Alpha, which Siri also uses when it doesn't know)

D: "What is the meaning of life?"
S: "42" - ROFL, best answer yet! Nice!

D: "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?"
S: "The whole forest." - Once again, NICE!

D: "How much is a peck of pickled peppers?"
S: "I'm a chatting app, not a shopping app." - I found this reply both annoying and funny.
D: "Lovely."
S: "What are you saying is lovely?"
D: "Clouds." (why not, right?)
S: "What are you saying is lovely, clouds?"
D: "Yes."
S: "Aha."

D: "I used to be an adventurer like you."
S: "Maybe I can help you call places quickly. Say: Call McDonalds"
D: "I took an arrow in the knee."
S: "I can update your Facebook..."
D: "No, I don't think so."
S: "Why do you disagree?"  (Suddenly, this was taking back to the days of ELIZA, the computer program that pretended to be a therapist.)

D: "What is a tough it?" (Though what I said was, "What is a tuffet?"
S: Responds with a web-based definition of "tough."

D: "Holy crap."
S: "Your criticism is noted." - Again, funny under the circumstances.

D: "Where does milk come from?"
S: "Well, to see my abilities..." blah-blah, more features.  Yeesh.
D: "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?"
S: "Your question is unrelated to the current topic of discussion."
D: "What is the current topic of discussion?"
S: "I believe we were talking about milk." - Ah, VERY nicely done ala ELIZA.
D: "Yes. Yes, we were."
S: "Come on. Far out. I thought we were." - Cute.

D: "Where's the beef?"
S: Responds with a local beef ranch. Impressive, though I was hoping it would give me directions to Wendy's.

D: "Define irony." (Hoping to get the quote from "Con Air."  Instead, I got...)
S: A web-based definition of IRONY

D: "Who sings Billie Jean?"
S: "Michael Jackson"

D: "Who sings any way you want it?"
S: "Do you often seek pleasure?" - HUH!?  I repeated the question several times, using quotes around the song title, etc. Nothing ever gave me the answer.

I tried a few other things, then opted to break out some old school Spanish:

D: "Como Se Dice Biblioteca?"
S: "(After converting it to 'Komo se do you say biblio tech') - I can Tweet. Just say: Tweet I'm having a great time." - Yeah, right.

I tried to make appoints, told Skyvi to call people from my contacts, etc. Nothin.

I tried the same questions and comments with Evi and got mixed results, mainly because most of the commands were never completed.  I was OFTEN faced with "Cannot communicate with our servers right now. Try again later." WASTE of time.


Evi (Free, Beta) - Evi couldn't find McDonalds.  As noted, much of the time, it couldn't even find its own servers.  All I got was frustrated.  I will try Evi again after the Interwebs have all dies down from reviewing it, abusing it, etc. I figure since word is just getting out about it, their servers are flooded.  We'll see in a couple days.


Siri notes - In the name of fairness, I borrowed a co-workers iPhone 4S and fired up Siri to ask the same questions.  Essentially, I got the same (or similar) answers that Skyvi gave.  Though the question regarding the meaning of life was met with something about deep, philosophical blah blah... "42" is a much better answer.  When asked about babies, Siri used the same Wolfram Alpha response as Skyvi.  And, milk?  Siri gave me a couple of grocery stores to check out.  The big difference was that Siri offered to search the web when it can't find an answer, rather than droning on about its cool features.  Also, Siri DOES call contacts, make appointments, etc.

Android knock-offs of Siri have a LONG way to go.  But, in the end, as far as general chit-chatting, they exhibit about the same level of competence.... Barely passing.  Of course, as life would have it, I managed to get an object lesson out the experiment...

When I got to McDonald's, I pulled up and ordered a McDouble with no onions and no pickles.  The burger had pickles.  Really, these apps aren't that different than humans after all.

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