Evi for Android

We've talked before about what it takes for an app to truly be a competitor to Apple's Siri. 

  1. It needs to be easily accessible, and launch quickly. Very quickly.
  2. It needs to actually understand what you're saying.
  3. It needs to return results quickly.

We're going to add one more reqiurement to that list: It needs to actually be on iOS. Otherwise, it's not a Siri competitor. It's just an alternative. On another platform.

Anyhoo. That brings us to Evi, the latest app to attempt Siri-like functionality on Android. That is, you ask it a question or give it a command, and it responds with audio and text. Maybe.

Evi's user interface isn't too shabby. Clean lines and all that, and you've got a nice, prominent microphone button, so you know what to hit. You don't get the same home button metaphor that you do with Siri on the iPhone, but then again most Android smartphones don't have dedicated home buttons. That's not a big ding, just noticeable. Evi uses Google's voice-to-whatever UI and is powered by Nuance, so that looks familiar, and it's quick enough in listening to what you're saying.

But that's when things pretty much go off the rails. In even just our handful of tests, Siri was much quicker at returning results. It's pretty obvious for some things, Siri already knows the answer -- it's looking them up in the background. Evi needs a minute, though typing your question may speed things up a tad -- but that kind of defeates the purpose here.

And once again we see diametric differences in the presentation of results. Siri is simple, both in audio and visual answers. Evi's voice is decidedly robotic, and the answers are too long -- almost engineerish. Oh, and telling me to go look up the weather myself? That's really not acceptable. On the other hand, you get to give each answer a thumbs up or thumbs down. Guess which one I've been using more. 

Does Evi have Siri-like functionality? Sure. Is it a Siri "competitor?" No. It's just not as good -- and it's not on the iPhone, therefore it can't directly compete. (Update: Ah, it's on iOS, too.)

Check out our video walkthrough after the break. And note that we're not dinging Evi too badly for having server problems. When you're a new app that gets a bunch of attention in a short amount of time, this can happen, we suppose. But that doesn't mean we're willing to put up with it for very long. After all -- if your app doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Evi for AndroidEvi for Android

Evi for AndroidEvi for Android


Reader comments

Evi is a Siri 'competitor' for Android -- if you like slow, non-answers


Lots of people use them. Some people can actually use electronics from different manufacturer's and still be happy.

I know that's going to shock a lot of people around here.

Who cares about Siri anyway? Im one of 3 android users i know, so most of my friends are on iphones, and guess what? ive seen *none* of them use Siri except to show it off. In day to day use, they never touch it.

one of the Radiologists here at work continually tries to validate his choice in buying an iPhone 4s and invalidating my choice in getting an SGS2. He typically tries to use Siri as an example and I'd say about 50% of the time it just fails at doing what he wants it to do.

Siri isn't bad, I think it's great but it's not perfect and these articles keep portraying it as such which it isn't.

My, hands down favorite, is Speaktoit but I CAN'T get it to work quite right with my bluetooth headset which means I don't use it.

I use Speaktoit as well and I've shown it to iPhone/Siri users. They don't say much but seem to be surprised Siri isn't the only app/software capable of voice control (calling a contact by asking it to do so) and the like. Oh and I use SVOX Victoria UK for the voice (sexy female British accent). She definitely SOUNDS better than Siri. :)

This, such a novelty of a feature, yet this article portrays it as this end all amazing feature. When did android central become iTard fanboys, get this shit off of my news feed, or rather just fire this stupid writer.

Rofl even bgr wrote a less iphone biased article.. this is sad.

Iris is waaaaaaaaay better than the rest of the android alternatives. It came just 8 hours after they released siri, and they've greatly improved it after each and every update. You guys should check it out :)

I haven't been too impressed with Iris to this point. I just use it as a toy, but most times it either gives me a smart-ass answer, or even better, tells me to look it up. No big deal, since I really don't see much purpose to these apps anyway, other than something for iFan boys to brag about the one thing their phone has over others.

Vlingo has worked for longer than Siri has been in virtual existence. But I guess Apple will a patent for that too..

Same here I used Vlingo back in the OG droid days but if Siri is your type of thing try Skyvi it works is fast you can even argue with it, but im just sitting back hoping this all will pass soon enough.

As a EVO 3D user I don't understand why people call 3D a gimmick, but not siri or its competitors a gimmick.

it's mostly a gimmick until you use one of the functional one's for things such as hands free operation of your phone. Nothing easier than just tapping your bluetooth button and rifling off commands such as "play static x" and Pandora opening up and playing music all without being distracted.

I'd consider being able to create and view 3D content added functionality.

Maybe not as useful for completing tasks, sure, but it is certainly functional and it's something I actually use much more often than the various voice control apps I've downloaded.

I usually feel pretty silly talking to my phone, and even rude when doing it around others. I do see the value though.

Let's face it, a lot of new features coming out on today's phones are really gimmicks and gadgets that rarely get used. But every new feature on an iPhone is hailed as a great advancement, even when competitors have been doing something similar (and often even better) for years. Apple has recently patented mobile 3D technology. How much do you want to bet that when they come out with a 3D iPhone it will be hailed as the next big thing?

I view Siri about the same as the 3D cameras that are beginning to come out. They all are fun little conversation pieces but not really the center piece of the phone. Hell, even Google's voice command is kinda cool and I showed that off to a friend but I don't use it in my daily life.

Yeah, I've seen siri in the wild and it's useless. Even when it understands what is being said it often returns ineffectual results. Google voice search on a year old phone repeatedly clobbers my friend's girlfriend's shiny new iphone every time she tries to show it off. If you want a 'real siri competitor' all you need are some cute Easter eggs 'cause that's all she's good for.

Seriously, are you basing your view of siri's performance on that commercial? It's like going on a craiglist date when the girl's only got pics from the neck up. (Hint: you're going to be disappointed)

To be perfectly honest my job I see Siri all of the time. I can say this, it is truly wearing that beta title. it is often not able to connect. Many times the server is out not so much now as in the past. If Google can create a competitor for android that is just as reliable as the existing voice commands it will blow Siri out of the water.

Because talking to our phones is just what we want. I find it funny people are really buying iPhones for a BETA feature that they use only once and forget its there.

Zzzzzzz Everybody knows (Or should know that) Siri is a distraction and a very good one at that but a distraction non the less.

Apple has a two year cycle which can be taken advantage of if the average user could pick up any Android phone, use it with ease and have their jaw dropped as they hand the phone back reluctantly.

Instead of spending time copying Siri dev's should be aiming beyond this kind of nonsense and delivering killer ideas that make using Android not only a pleasure but the clear choice.

That's what's missing after all!

WP7 may not have the apps or the market share put it is so slick overall like IOS and in the end I've been an Android user for three years now and I've learnt that to aim for a phone that isn't a flagship phone will only bring me sadness and disappointment and the results of a notification on my phone can vary wildly depending the app I'm using and the amount of resource I have free.

Android doesn't need a Siri equivalent, it needs a clearer sense of self which ICS started and hopefully Jelly Bean or Jam Roly Poly will finish. I also think Dev's and Blog's have the power to make this happen by shout, screaming and leading by example.

Rant over :)

I do agree with you android does not need siri. Hell people don't need siri. The fact is people want Siri so bad. Your day to day consumer just wants to get the newest feature. They don't care what it does or that it does not work all of the time. Siri is a Consumer trap. People buy the 4s for siri and end of staying for the phone. My friend got her self an iPhone 4s in December. She got it just for siri. After seeing my phone at the start of the year, her search results have changed. Now she is looking at how much sprint iPhones 4s sell on ebay and when the Sprint Galaxy Nexus will be released. People really do like the Galaxy Nexus when they see it in action ;)

Curse you, server load! :)

Andrew here from True Knowledge, the developers of Evi. I appreciate your understanding of the server related issues. The response from the exposure she has had over the last couple of days has been astounding, incredibly exciting and crippling all at once. We'd honestly not expected such phenomenal response in one fell swoop and it has, to be blunt, hammered the heck out of the servers.

The good news is that the speed issues you displayed are part and parcel of that and she will be speeding up. We've been humbled at how understanding people have been in the mean time and it is extremely gratifying to see people still excited despite these launch woes.

In prepping Evi for launch we realised that she wouldn't be able to provide the level of intelligent info on certain areas in the time frame we wanted - weather being one of these, but its top of the hit list. Evi is very much version 1 and part of her design is her ability to grow and learn. The immediate plan is to expand her ability to provide more in-depth responses on a wider range of topics. Her real core talent is her ability to infer information from multiple different facts, and that's what will serve her well in the long run. As for integration with other phone features, that is also something we're keen to get onto.

Anyway, this isn't by any means intended as an apologist post or a "yeah, but... but...", rather a heads-up to check in on Evi as she grows and shows off what she is truly capable of.

Now, I have a rather embarrassed AI to reassure as she gets back to her feet, having been bowled over by the stampede to get a look at her.

thanks for that reply.. I'm not sure how AC reviews apps, if who approached who, but this is rather embarrassing for everyone, you the developer, Phil and AC, and me an Android users in general.

I would recommend that only "polish" apps be reviewed in general, this doesn't do anyone really, any good...

As a child of the 60's I have known since I first saw the crew of the Starship Enterprise speak to their computer, and the computer spoke back (!)- that this is something I have wanted as much as the generation before me wanted a video phone on their wrist ala Dick Tracey.

So far execution hasn't lived up to the dream - but I like that we are getting closer all the time

horrible review. The reason why it wasn't working for you because they only have TWO servers handling THOUSANDS of requests a minute. If they had more servers, this would be just like Siri. Having used it BEFORE the servers got crushed, it was just as good as Siri.

How is that the reviewer's fault that the developer only has 2 servers? It either works or it doesn't, the reason doesn't matter and it's not Android Central's responsibility to make sure the dev has enough servers before they review the app.

Not everything is black or white, and most reasonable people definitely care about why something isn't working. Especially when it's server-load on an app that relies entirely on servers processing queries.

I don't even know why you brought this up: it's not Android Central's responsibility to make sure the dev has enough servers before they review the app.

No one said that it was. No one insinuated it was.

I downloaded vlingo but never used it. Siri and all the others are more of a novelty than anything else.

Is there a way to map Evi to open instead of the voice dialer? That's the only way I see a Siri-clone being successful.

Evi is great.. after asking "what's the time" she said "I'm waiting for a network connection before trying this one" .. LOL

It does exactly that for me too ever since i installed it. Isn't that soooooooooo awesome??? hehehe

Meh...stock Android on Galaxy Nexus has voice recognition for what I would use Siri for most...quickly sending a text and searching for something on the internet.