Google bans Siri knockoff from Android Market, but legit competitors persist

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple didn’t invent voice control when it rolled out its Siri personal assistant software with the iPhone 4S, but it definitely has garnered a lot of attention for the software. More than one Android developer is trying to get in on that popularity, some less legitimately than others.

Devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system have had voice control capabilities for a while now, but the thing about Siri is that it takes existing technology (voice-to-text and voice command tech have been around for years) and has found a way to make it work better than most people are used to. While I’ve watched my Android-owning friends repeatedly trying to use their voice control apps to find an address or call a loved one, often repeating themselves once or twice just to get the software on the same page, Siri is billed as being a lot more responsive and being able to understand a lot more speech more intuitively.

Siri is so popular that it’s seeing lots of attempts to get the iPhone 4S-exclusive software to other, older iOS devices, and it’s also seeing knock-off attempts in the Android Market. Google just banned an app that billed itself as Siri for Android, as GadgetBox reports. But there are other developers trying to catch Siri’s lightning in a bottle with real apps.

The Siri for Android app garnered at least 1,000 downloads before it was banned, GadgetBox’s story says. But the app didn’t pack the Siri software, instead it just presented a button on the device’s screen that resembled the Siri button on iPhone 4S displays, and that button just activated Android’s built-in voice control features.

Meanwhile, as SlashGear reports, two Android developers have teamed up to create a Siri-like app for Android that really can compete with Apple’s version. The app is called Iris, and is developed by Dextera. That developer is pairing with a competitor, ChaCha, in order to create a giant info database for Iris that will allow it to rival Siri, which draws its information from sources such as Yelp. ChaCha already has a giant database that allows users to type in their questions and get information from the Internet; pairing it with Iris brings in the voice-recognition side of the equation.

It’s likely that Iris and ChaCha will both be helping one another to improve in the future to keep up with Siri and provide an alternative that Android users can get behind. Meanwhile, Siri is going to be improving, too – Apple released the software as a beta product, which means there’s still development to be done. Expect Siri to be more robust with the release of the iPhone 5, likely later this year. Hopefully Android developers will work hard to keep pace, and keep Android competitive with Apple’s popular new feature.