Phone apps that can stand in for Siri

February 19, 2013 12:40:44 PM PST
Apple's Siri voice recognition ushered in a whole new era in smart-phone technology. Now, downloadable apps are trying to get in on the conversation. But how well do they work?

If you don't have a newer iPhone with the Siri feature, a couple free voice-recognition apps are available for download. Consumer Reports just took a look to see how well they work.

Tyler Carfi loves Siri, Apple's much-acclaimed voice-recognition feature.

"I can just ask Siri, 'Where's the nearest coffee shop,'" Carfi said, "It's really convenient."

Consumer Reports says two top examples of voice-recognition apps are Robin and Speak-To-It. You can download them onto your phone for free.

"Speak-To-It is available on several platforms, including iPhone," said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports, "whereas Robin is exclusively for the Android platform."

Both apps do well with some requests, like getting directions to locations or retrieving photos of objects. However, both also struggle with other questions, such as mathematics problems or scheduling appointments.

In the Consumer Reports tests, Siri had no problem with similar requests. Siri remains the voice recognition stand-out.

"Siri is hardwired into your iPhone and has access to much more of your personal information," Gikas says, "And that's an edge that none of the other apps can really compete with."

But, downloading a free app gives you at least some voice-recognition capability. Speak-To-It seems to be one of the best so far. It works on both the iPhone and Androids.