Robin: Android’s Answer to Siri Reviewed

Robin: Android's Answer to Siri ReviewedLet me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of voice recognition technology and I personally believe that it is destined to be the future of communication between man and machine. As this becomes a reality, we will continue to see the shift from pressing application buttons on a touch screen, which is already becoming passé, to dependence on the mechanical voices directed at us from our gadgets.

Currently, this mode of communication is limited to specific programs, such as Robin, but it doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to see it evolving into the accepted venue, of the future, as more applications become available for all platforms.

Does Speech Recognition Really Work?

In my personal opinion and after experimenting with several applications using speech recognition, I am confident to say that it does work. To substantiate my claim, I began testing this mode of speech recognition software about three years ago when I first installed a verbal command program, Dragon Naturally Speaking, on my personal computer. I did learn in the first few months that this software, like all of its kind, required my time commitment in order to train the software to recognize my speech patterns; recognizing them is paramount for the program to understand what you are saying and respond accurately.

My intrigue with this type of software continued with the purchase of my Android smartphone on which I use a free application, available from Google Play, called VLingo. Fortunately for me, VLingo has been very useful and easy to use for everything from providing driving directions to doing Google searches. I have used it to locate restaurants, buy movie tickets, and to update social networks, as well as to text or call someone. However, while this is a fantastic verbal command type of application, VLingo doesn’t verbally communicate with you.

So How is Robin Different?

The main difference between VLingo and Robin is that Robin will verbally interact with the user. When you present a question to Robin, the voice assistant can answer your question and provide an answer. For example, the driver of a vehicle can best take advantage of its ability when they specifically ask for the following information:

  • Driving directions from point A to point B
  • Where to locate parking areas near your destination
  • Locate places of interest
  • Gas stations in the area that offer the cheapest price on gasoline
  • Current traffic conditions in a certain area

Other information and services that Robin can provide include:

  • Current weather conditions as well as future forecasts
  • Maintaining Twitter feeds
  • Scheduled appointments or activities reminders
  • Telling jokes
  • Imparting words of wisdom
  • Playing music from your favorite application, such as Pandora
  • Searching the Web for specific information
  • And more is coming, according to the developers

Is Robin a Siri-like Clone for Android Users?

It is premature to compare Robin with Apple’s Siri as Robin is still being beta tested. In other words, the developers are still tweaking their application and, during this development stage, they are including more and more information to share with users.

How Does It Perform?

I found Robin very easy to use.

Looking at this screen, you need to focus on the bottom of the application where the speaker is located. This is what you will need to activate in order to get Robin functioning. Once you have activated the program, you can either push the microphone button or set up Robin to respond to the waving of your hand in front of the screen several times. Either of these actions will get the application’s attention, but I found that I needed to wait a second or two before speaking in order for the program to prepare itself for your question. As with most speech recognition software, your results will be dependent on your speech patterns, so your mileage may vary. What I have learned is that it is best if you speak normally and at a normal pace. You do not need to speak slowly or over-articulate your speech, however, if you mumble and stammer, your results will be unpredictable.

Tests I Performed — and the Results

In testing the software, I asked questions about different ethnic restaurants near the small Midwestern town where I live as well as for San Francisco, where I was born and raised. For my local area, I was required to broaden Robin’s search to a larger city near us. However, the application shined and worked flawlessly when searching for such restaurants in the greater San Francisco area. In that search, Robin was able to locate, for the most part, some of the better eating establishments that The City has to offer. A good San Franciscan always refers to San Francisco as The City.

In testing out the weather for various areas and comparing these with the Weather Station application that I have on my Amazon Kindle Fire, I found Robin to be spot on. Robin also proved to be reliable in its reporting of traffic information, including one traffic accident. I also checked on Robin’s ability to stay current on gas pricing by comparing what she reported, for the area where I live, with those stations that I pass on a daily basis. However, if you are looking for a current and funny joke, Robin may not be the answer since the one she provided for me was cute, but fairly lame by today’s standards.

Over all, Robin is a work in progress, but a work that I believe is slowly improving. I would recommend that you give Robin and try and see what you think.

Comments welcome.

Source: Robin on Google Play