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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.

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

 

Reader comments

Video hands-on with Cluzee: Not quite a Siri competitor

40 Comments

Let me first start out by saying I am NOT an Apple fan, I think they did good with Siri but I think it would be far fetched to call Siri perfect. I've watched several people have issues with it understanding what they say. My personal favorite, on Android, is Speaktoit. It gets updated quite often and recently had some fantastic voice options to choose from (non-robots).

I haven't seen you guys review that one yet, maybe I missed that review? Definitely worth a check out and again it's not perfect either but like I said it's being updated quite often.

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.speaktoit.assistant&feature=se....

*edit* For the record, it's just "maps" and not "google maps" so might have better luck with that possibly.

@ mac-arthur1 "Iris ( siri spelled backwards ) is also a good option to siri.
."

had Iris, just deleted her and Vlingo for speaktoit. good app, and geting better with updates!

Speaktoit is, from what I have seen, the best Siri-like Android app. And they have been updating it frequently. The addition of the new spoken voices is REALLY nice.

I have to use an iPhone 4S for work and let me say on points #2 and #3...

Siri often has a really hard time understanding what I've said, and it still cannot understand non-english names.

Siri comes back with information so incredibly slow, even over wifi. Often the siri servers aren't even working so it takes even longer. Not to mention when it wants to google something it pauses for a long time then asks, 'should I search for it?'. Siri blows.

And with this it sounds like you will be the ones having trouble understanding what it says. Sounds like it has the flu and a migraine.

I tried out Cluzee and it definitely has potential. It has a way to go, but the potential is there. I agree with all of your points, but this is a good starting point.
Remember, Siri is still in beta, so Cluzee isn't too far behind it at this point. Once Cluzee is up to specs, I think it will be a really cool thing to show to my apple friends, point out that Siri isn't the end all and be all of smartphone apps, and then never use again.

Siri's not perfect, but there's "still room to grow" and then there's "not even walking upright yet." Apple has the advantage of some pretty powerful voice recognition from Nuance as well as Siri's contextual magic -- not to mention being integrated into the OS. Cluzee is just another app, so it's really not in a much better position than Vlingo or its kind.

how does being baked into the OS have any advantage over say an app? I'm just curious because with Android there seems to be a lot of choices (granted non as good as siri yet, in function) but I don't see any disadvantage with these apps not being baked directly into the OS. In fact, I would see that as a disadvantage. The fact that it's an app allows it to be updated much more frequently and it's integration is quite stellar.

To point #1, you can simply press and hold search button to launch it (or have the selection box to pick which voice app to use).

I think for Siri and any other voice app out there, they all are lacking in point #2.

IMO, to be a real competitor to Siri, it needs to be able to understand and remember the conversation context. So far, I found none of that in Cluzee.

You should definitely check out Jeannie, previously know as Voice Actions. The interface isn't all that great but the commands are much more casual than Cluzee and even Googles own voice command/search app. You guys should do a review on it.

Cluzee does some things well and others poorly. For starters it needs a "Tap and Speak" button on the results page. Why do all the result pages look different or have different options? OR Cluzee should continue to listen while you have the results page open so you can make another request if and when she is wrong. When mapped to the search hardkey, it should immediately start listening for a command - not make me tap again to speak. It has some promise, it got most of my odd ball questions right on the first shot, such as "How old is Marissa Tomei?" which is pretty obscure. :)

That link for the market doesnt come up. And it wont download to my phone from the net. Must be capibility issues going on with it.

I haven't tried it personally, but couldn't you use an app like Bluetooth Launcher and set it to envoke the app? I use that to pull up voice actions when I'm driving to work and I want to switch the track I'm listening to in Rhapsody.

I like speak to it. Or Jeannie by pannous in the market.

Jeannie you do not have to keep hitting the mic button the mic is live. I kinda like that.

SpeakToIt has found a home on my TBolt for now. I tried others and I'm keeping an open mind about this type of app and watching the development of them to see if anyone runs away from the pack.

SpeakToIt just added a couple of non-PICO voices of it's own for free and they sound pretty good. It can also use SVOX voices but I won't buy any SVOX voices until they update their core app to work with versions of Google Maps/Nav >5.9 and we're up to 5.12 already.

I tried both SVOX Gracie and Victoria and when I tried to Navigate with SVOX set as the Default Engine I got no turn-by-turn sound. If I didn't make SVOX the Default Engine then apps would use the SVOX voice of choice on an app by app basis but Navigate defaulted to the PICO stock robo-voice. I may revisit SVOX after their next update.

Don't forget about Vlingo. I have been using it for a few months now, I am very happy with it, specially the "driving" mode.

I don't get it... talking into your phone seems weird to me. Is it cool though? kinda. Anyways, what makes siri better then what android has? I mean from the google voice search you can do almost anything like Texting, set alarms, call someone, and launch apps. The robot voice is annoying to say the least.

Out of all the apps I have tested so far, speaktoit is by far the most accurate and you can be the most vague when speaking to it.

As for Cluzee it's definitely not very good.

Phil, you forgot a fourth requirement to compete with Siri: it has to provide USEFUL results. After all, what's the point of such an app if you ask how many inches are in a meter, and it returns search results about parking meters or metered data plans?

Its nice to see developers cooking a Siri competitor for Android. Apple said Siri was the coolest feature of iPhone 4S. If developers can quickly make Iris or Cluzee then Apple Siri is not revolutionary.

There have been options out for over a year from an app standpoint. Google Voice has been in even longer, but this year has been given more breadth to it's abilities. Apple just took what Android offered and upgraded it. Apple never invents...it just refines...or improves upon.

Force close, lagginess and bugginess is the definition of Android you seriously shouldn't expect more than that at this point. As usual it will be in beta forever just like Android.

I too am becoming a fan of 'Jeannie' by pannous in the Market. 'Voice Action' is the paid version. I have 6 of these 'Siri' like apps on my phone & Tablet. (some not tablet compatible)

Iris
Jeannie
Skyvi
Vlingo
Speaktoit
Eva

Everyone will like something different. I like clean & simple. (vs clutterd & busy) - So for me, Jeannie gets the nod for now. Try 'em all folks!

Im suprised so many have had trouble with Siri. My personal phone is a 4S but my work phone is an android and I uninstalled cluzee after the first day. It was aweful. I tried the one mentioned above too and although it was better than cluzee ( much much better :P) it still wasnt close to Siri. I find with Siri that if you just speak as you normally would it understands perfectly. Its kinda hard to do since everyone naturally speaks different when using voice control devices but if you just talk to it as you would to one of your friends its flawless. It just takes practice :)