New Android voice assistant, Robin, rides shotgun

A car-focused voice-response personal assistant will help you get where you're going, find parking, and read you sports scores while you're in traffic.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
Magnifis CEO Ilya Eckstein pitches Robin at Launch. Rafe Needleman/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--There's another new voice-response assistant that wants to date you: Robin, an Android app launching today at the Launch conference. This one is built for speed, though. Robin is designed specifically to be your in-car voice assistant.

Like Evi, and unlike Siri, Robin keeps your conversation in its head. If you ask for directions to location, and then later ask, "what's the parking like there?" it will know where "there" is. Also, it reads all information back to you, instead of displaying it and requiring you to look at the screen.

Like the navigation app Waze, Robin can be activated by just waving your hand in front of the phone. It really looks like a well-designed, completely hands-off driver's aid.

The company behind Robin, Magnifis, wants to build it out as a platform that other app and service vendors tap in to. There are a lot of products that could work on the Robing platform: Restaurants, to-go menu services, venue sites, flight data services, and so on. For now, Robin reports on traffic, parking, and weather data, as well as a sports feed. Oddly, it gets its traffic information from Twitter.

Robin is in beta now.