Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iris Taking On Siri With The Help Of ChaCha

Siri is the voice-based Apple iPhone app which acts as a personal assistant, answering questions and providing information based on user questions. It also has a bit of a personality which immediately made it the darling of the tech world.

But, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so immediately Android developers saw an opportunity to "flatter" Apple by devising their own voice-activated personal assistant app.

Meet Iris. 'She' was created in about 8 hours by an India mobile software development team called Dexetra. The concept is pretty much the same as Siri: ask a question get a (hopefully) relevant answer.

The strength of any such 'knowledge app' is the data of information it has to work with. In a deal just announced this week Dexetra just expanded its knowledge-base about 600 percent by joining forces with ChaCha, the Indianapolis based knowledge provider that is currently consider one of the world's leading resources of information on just about anything you might have to ask.

In the past five years ChaCha has answered more than 2 billion questions, using a information supplied by more than 25 unique users every month. It is one of the fastest growing, most used knowledge-services, reaching users via a website, mobile app, and phone. The combination of the ChaCha information database and Iris signify a direct assault on the dominance of Apple in the voice-activated personal mobile assistant category.

But, is Iris as good as Siri? That's a great question and one I decided to test.

I have a Droid 2 smartphone so I downloaded Iris. The interface is smooth and easy to use, however correct answers, or rather, its ability to understand my questions seemed somewhat lacking. When I asked "What is the best selling book of all time?" it responded with "It is 1:41 p.m. now."
When I asked, "How much does a full grown African lion weigh?" Iris answered, "You tell me."

Cute, but not helpful.

However, when I asked the distance from Indiana to London, England, I received a correct answer "3,999 miles." And when I asked the weight of an average automobile, I received a answer "3,596 pounds."

Depending on what you want know, Iris is your go-to service. It's already the easiest app I've ever used before. Combined with ChaCha, I expect its answering ability will increase dramatically, making it one of he most effective smartphone apps available.

Click here to read the press release about the Iris/ChaCha partnership.

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