Virtual Assistants: 4 Apps That May Replace Siri in the Future
We love killing some time by asking Siri a fun question or two. But when you’re actually trying to get something done, it’s increasingly feeling like Siri is falling behind. And there are plenty of other personal assistants that would be happy to take Siri’s place on your iPhone. Everyone knows about Siri competitors like Google Now and Cortana. But what if you’re looking for something a little more exciting? Then we’ve got a few apps you should check out. We’ve left out virtual assistants and bots with narrow areas of focus. Instead, the ones we’ve detailed below are AI-enabled virtual assistants that you can ask for help on a variety of tasks, or quiz on a number of different topics, just like Siri.
Fin is a new kind of “intelligent entity,” one that’s still developing but will likely be up for the task in the future. Fin’s goal is not only to make tedious tasks much easier, but to offer a kind of artificial intelligence that you can converse with just like a person. Fin will be a “conversational agent” that you’ll use “like Siri, Echo, or Google Now.” Fin uses a combination of machine and human intelligence to find answers, send messages, and remember information for you. Additionally, Fin will be able to handle natural language requests that go beyond questions about simple facts. The idea is to offer a solution that “feels like having the best possible personal assistant, except it never sleeps, is dramatically faster, and has access to deep knowledge and technology.” Fin has already been integrated with Amazon’s Echo, as you can see in the video above. Additionally, you can sign up for Fin’s waitlist to get an invite to try the software.
Hound may be the assistant for you if you’re continually disappointed by Siri’s inability to answer your questions without a web search. Available on both iOS and Android, Hound is able to understand the context and details of your queries. You can make specific queries about subjects including the weather, local places, directions, hotels, or Uber fares, and you can use follow-up questions to add details. You can even make phone calls and send text messages hands-free or dictate web searches, and use a variety of other useful features to get quick answers to questions that Siri can’t yet handle. That’s because of Hound’s “Speech to Meaning” capability, which helps the assistant understand what you need.
3. Facebook M
Facebook M, the virtual assistant that lives inside Facebook Messenger, offers a text-based alternative to the conversations you’ve been having with Siri. As Nick Statt reported last year for The Verge, M is designed to be more powerful than Siri or Google Now. Unlike many other virtual assistants, M uses both artificial intelligence and a team of human operators, who take the wheel whenever a query is beyond the AI’s abilities. Statt reported that M feels more human than Siri or Cortana in its ability to get things done, but a little less capable of displaying the human-like qualities you’d expect from the AI of the future. More recently, Alex Kantrowitz reported for BuzzFeed that M is helpful, but does everything to avoid controversy — including saying anything that would give it a personality.
Viv is a new virtual assistant from the creators of Siri, and looks like it’s going to surpass Siri in just about every way. The principle behind Viv is embodied by the tagline, “Intelligence becomes a utility.” As Elizabeth Dwoskin reports for The Washington Post, the first public test of Viv saw the virtual assistant successfully answering challenging and specific questions, enabling the engineers to order a pizza without downloading an app or placing a phone call — something that virtual assistants like Siri are incapable of achieving. Because most consumers aren’t particularly enthusiastic about downloading and staying on top of dozens of apps, virtual assistants that effectively integrate functions from a disparate array of apps will offer a much more convenient way of getting things done.