by James A. Martin

Speaktoit Assistant iPhone App No Match for Siri

Feb 13, 20123 mins
Consumer ElectronicsiPhone

A new iPhone app promises to outdo Siri and bring similar voice activated features and functionality to older iPhones. But blogger James A. Martin says the app lags far behind Apple’s virtual assistant and doesn’t match up to the Speaktoit Assistant for Android app.

Me: “What is the current temperature?”

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone: “I’m not too certain either way.”

Me (repeating slowly): “What is the current temperature?”

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone: “I can’t really say at the moment.”

And so it went with my tests of Speaktoit Assistant, a popular Siri-like Android app that made its iPhone debut last week. While the Speaktoit iPhone virtual assistant was indecisive, I’m not: The current iPhone version (0.2), which I tested, is essentially beta software that does a frustratingly inept job of speech recognition. The iPhone app costs $2, while the Android version is free—and does a far better job.

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (by Speaktoit LLC) promises to be “the most complete virtual assistant available” and do things Siri can’t, such as run on older iPhones. (Siri is currently limited to the iPhone 4S.) Speaktoit can also update your Facebook status, unlike Siri. In my tests, however, Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone didn’t complete a single task or answer one question satisfactorily.

Some additional examples:

Me: “Where is the closest grocery store?”

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone: “I’m not too certain either way.”

Me: “Where is the closest Starbucks?”

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone: “I’m not too certain either way.”

Me: “How many inches are in five feet?”

Speaktoit Assistant for iPhone: “I’m not too certain either way.”

Speaktoit Assistant iPhone vs Android

Starting to See a Trend Here?

Like any bad relationship, I began to wonder: Is it me? Or more specifically, is it my Southern accent? So I posed the same questions to Speaktoit Assistant on Android as well as to Siri on the iPhone. Both answered my questions accurately and quickly. For example, the Android Speaktoit Assistant showed maps of nearby grocery stores and Starbucks locations and delivered a Google search that immediately answered my inches-to-feet conversion question.

Being a Southerner, I had to ask Speaktoit Assistant on iPhone and Android where the closest Piggly Wiggly is located. The iPhone avatar replied, “I’m sorry. I’m having trouble understanding the question.”

When I asked again, the app showed me a map pinpointing a business called DemandTec Inc., a cloud-based analytics company that IBM acquired. (Is there a secret connection between Piggly Wiggly and Big Blue?) On my Android, however, Speaktoit Assistant located a laundry called Piggly Wiggly Wash in Millbrae, California—something not even Siri accomplished.

One thing I like about Speaktoit Assistant is the ability to customize your avatar’s appearance—right down to the eyebrows. I transformed my male avatar into Harry Potter, just because I could.

But that’s where my enthusiasm for the current iPhone version ends. If you’re jonesing for Siri on an older iPhone, I recommend Vlingo (by Vlingo Corporation). It’s free. It lets you send texts, emails, social media updates, dial by voice, and complete other tasks. And it does an excellent job of speech recognition.

Will Speaktoit Assistant on the iPhone get better over time? Will Apple release Siri for older iPhones, thereby making apps like Speaktoit Assistant largely irrelevant?

As the Speaktoit avatar would say, “I’m not too certain either way.” But I’m sure I won’t be replacing Siri with Speaktoit Assistant on my iPhone anytime soon.