I think we all remember when Siri first was announced. It was going to “revolutionalize” the way you used your iPhone. Well, the reality has proved to be a bit less than expected. Don’t get me wrong, Siri does have it’s uses and it does some things well but not exactly how it’s hyped.
Since then, there have been several Android apps come out that were vying for the title of “The Siri for Android”. Today I’m looking at Maluuba, a new voice control app that has some promising features. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my car and needed to search for a local business or check my calendar and had to pull over. I have tried several voice control apps and have yet to find one that is ready for prime time.
What It Does
The Maluuba developers describe it as a “do-engine that helps you search for anything from businesses to restaurants, organize your calendar, alarms and reminders using a timeline and share great concerts and movies with your friends”. So what I gather from that is that you should be able to search, manage your calendar, and share information with you friends or colleagues. Maluuba also uses Wolphram Alpha for it’s knowledge queries. Wolphram has always impressed me…so I’m curious to see how the two interface.
The look and feel of Maluuba is really clean and simple, which I love. Too many times, developers try to get too flashy with the UI. Maluuba keeps things simple and that means it runs very fast. There was no waiting for it to load.
Now to the meat of the matter…does it work? I decided to try a few questions to warm up with.
- Who is Steve Jobs? The result for this question was quick. Maluuba showed me a lot of information on Steve Jobs from Wolphram Alpha. Very fast and very accurate.
- What time is it in London? Maluuba gives me the current time in London, my current time, and even two clocks showing both times.
- What is the square root of 10? Ok, you probably won’t be asking for the square root of 1o anytime soon but the point is that Maluuba understood me and gave me the correct answer.
Now on to some location based questions.
- How far to Atlanta? Not only did Maluuba get this correct and give me the distance, it actually told me how long it would take if I were flying.
- What city am I in? This time Maluuba launched the Maps application and showed me exactly where I was. This was nice and much more useful than if it had just told me what city.
- Navigate to Atlanta. This command opened the Maps application and plotted a course to Atlanta. Fast and accurate…I see a pattern evolving.
Next I decided to try some calendar functions. Which are accessed by swiping left to the “My Day” section. This gives you calendar and reminder options. Also, if you sync with Facebook you will see birthday reminders for your friends.
- Remind me to watch football tomorrow. This one impressed me. Maluuba actually understood what I meant and added the reminder. (not that I needed a reminder to watch football )
- Set alarm for 6am. Once again the alarm was added.
- September 18th. Maluuba shows me my calendar entries for that date.
- Add To Calendar, meeting with Tasha, October 8th. This was the first miss (although only slightly). Maluuba added a meeting on October 8th but left off who it was with. This obviously isn’t a major issue. The fact that it added the meeting on the correct date is impressive.
If you swipe right in Maluuba you are presented with a Windows Mobile type interface feature icons for Restaurants, Weather, Movies, Knowledge, navigation, businesses, music, events, and connect. You can select one of these options and it will show you relevant information. Of course you can just use the voice commands too. Let’s try some more.
- Where is a restaurant? The restaurants screen is launched and the restaurants are launched in distance order.
- What movies are playing? A now showing screen appears along with a coming soon. I can then choose the movie and see where it is playing near me and even add it to my calendar.
- What is the weather tomorrow? Maluuba uses Weather Underground to present me with the forecast. This is one of the feature I will use most.
- When is the next concert? As expected this brought up a list of upcoming concerts in my area.
- Email Tasha. I am presented with all of Tasha’s email addresses and asked to choose one. Then I am given the option to choose email or gmail. A new message is began using the address and method selected. I would like to see some options here to set a default email method. This would increase the speed in which you can get to the message.
As you can see I tried quite a few different types of questions/commands and received favorable results most of the time. I’m sure there are tons of other commands you can use that I didn’t try but you get the general idea. Does Maluuba mean you can ditch your personal assistant? Not quite yet, but it does free you up from typing and let you have more control using your voice.
And the kicker is that it’s free…so what do you have to lose by trying it out. Head on over to the market and give it a whirl.