Android gets a Siri-fighter

Meet Robin, a natural language voice-activated navigator for Android that puts Siri on notice.

A screenshot of Robin in action on Android.
A screenshot of Robin in action on Android. Magnifis

Hot on the heels of the Siri announcements coming out of 2012 WWDC, Android users get a little good news of their own. Software startup Magnifis released Robin, a voice-activated natural language mobile assistant for Android devices.

Robin is like a mashup of Siri and Waze . It's a voice-controlled mobile app designed for drivers to use in their cars. Like Waze, it's motion-activated rather than button-activated, which is easier for complying with distracted driving laws and using on the road, and it can proactively warn you about upcoming traffic or speed traps. It also remembers questions you ask, which means that it can hold a two-way conversation about the answers it gives. But it's not a Siri-killer, yet.

Unlike Robin, Siri has the capability to send text messages and play music, making it a true voice-activated mobile assistant. Robin, on the other hand, focuses mainly on driving-related tasks, such as finding parking and gas station prices, and leaves the voice-controlled text messaging to Android's native capabilities. But she may be a better co-pilot than Siri.

Robin learns the user's driving schedule and habits, and based on those patterns, will be able to provide more relevant navigation and driving information. It also appears to be integrated with Yelp, Twitter, and other databases to provide navigation and parking details. Try to ask Siri to find parking near Cafe de la Press in San Francisco and Siri will tell you that it can't search near businesses. In other words, Siri has breadth, but Robin has depth.

Magnifis introduced Robin at the Launch conference in March. The app, although available for free at the Google Play store, is still in beta, which means there are some kinks to work out. Some reviewers are commenting that Robin doesn't yet work with some devices, such as the HTC MyTouch 4G and HTC Evo 4G LTE. But for drivers, it's an improvement over Dragon Go, another voice-activated natural language search option for Android users. And it beats shelling out $600 for an iPhone.

 

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