There are a few things a voice-recognition app needs to do well to be successful -- and must do extremely well if it wants to call itself a competitor to Apple's Siri.
- It needs to be easilly accessible, and launch quickly. Very quickly.
- It needs to actually understand what you're saying.
- It needs to return results quickly.
As we continue to find out, this is easier said than done. The latest
victim candidate is Cluzee, which bills itself as "Your Intelligent Personal Assisant" -- and which despite some initial glowing press doesn't really stand up to simple testing.
Let's start with Point 1: You need to be able to launch a voice app like this quickly. The iPhone 4S has a leg up by allowing you to long-press the home button to launch Siri at any time. Simple, quick. With Cluzee, you need a home screen shortcut, which means having to wake and unlock the phone first. If the app's not yet in memory, it takes several seconds to launch -- an eternity for this sort of thing. It really has to be faster. (And it is, so long as Cluzee remains loaded.)
On to Point 2: Cluzee understood our tests some of the time, but not all of the time. And even in our abbreviated use, it seemed to struggle more than it should. That ties into Point 3: Returning results for local pizza locations took so long we thought the app had hung on us (force closes are not uncommon at this point). And opening applications through Cluzee took too many steps. (Us: "Open Google Maps." Cluzee: "Which application do you want me to open?" Grrrrrr.)
That's not to say Cluzee doesn't have potential -- it most certainly does, and it does a decent job at personifying itself, using the pronouns you'd expect from something like this. But let's not go calling it a Siri competitor just yet. If you want to give it a shot, we've got download links after the break.
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