Voice Answer: The New Siri?


By Drew Muller

Slide over, Siri, there’s a new eerily unemotional voice recognition app in town. After nearly three months of rejection, Voice Answer, developed by the Netherlands-based company Sparkling Apps has been approved by Apple and can now be purchased in the app store. According to Techcrunch.com, it’s usable on any iPhone, iPod or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later. The new app, whose icon graphic has an uncanny resemblance to the crazed cyborgs Will Smith fought off in I, Robot, opens up the purchase options for those who fancy conversing with their mobile devices, but don’t want to upgrade to the 4s. On the other hand, it remains to be seen if the largely untested Voice Answer can stand up against Siri and her hoards of loyal users.

There’s no question that Apple has the monopoly on voice-recognition applications. Siri was one of the main marketing focuses when the 4s was released and has become a household name since then. People have faith in Apple products and the company’s brand image makes it almost impervious to competition.

“I don't think Voice Answer will compete with Siri because, let’s face it, Apple controls the market right now. I think the iPhone revolution is still as strong as ever and sales will go up every time a new iPhone comes out. So, Siri is here to stay for the long-haul,” said Andrew Chernoff, a senior broadcast journalism and political science double major, mirroring the sentiments of most avid Apple users.

Voice-recognition app developers have their work cut out for them as they must persuade consumers their product can offer something different than the already well-established Siri. But if they play their cards right, success could be found with consumers who don’t see the necessity of buying the iPhone 4s, and we can’t forget about iPad owners who lack Siri. Of course, the challenge will be escaping Siri’s shadow, something Sparkling Apps may struggle with as Eve, its last attempt to compete with Apple voice recognition, failed miserably.

“As for other phones, I think voice recognition will be popular, but at the end of the day, people will recognize Siri’s name a lot more,” Chernoff agreed.

Voice Answer is by no means perfect and is no exception to the common flaws of voice recognition apps, but it has promise. According to Tuaw.com, the app handles questions that require quick answers well and doesn’t jump to the web to find solutions, which Siri often does.

“It's $3.99, which isn't bad, but I don't think it's been fully developed yet to make it worth my time,” said Jon Gregalis, a sophomore public relations major. “I like that it can answer lots of questions, but what I seek is the ability for the voice activation control to do is read my texts to me and respond to them depending on what I tell it to say.”