Evi attempts to fill Siri void for non-4S users

Feb 6, 2012
Tech

I opted to skip upgrading to iPhone 4S, but that decision cost me access to an app I quite liked: Siri Assistant. With Siri’s much-lauded integration into the 4S, users on aging devices might feel abandoned when it comes to artificial intelligence. Enter Evi; a 99-cent app for iPhone and iPod Touch that aims to […]

I opted to skip upgrading to iPhone 4S, but that decision cost me access to an app I quite liked: Siri Assistant. With Siri’s much-lauded integration into the 4S, users on aging devices might feel abandoned when it comes to artificial intelligence. Enter Evi; a 99-cent app for iPhone and iPod Touch that aims to fill the void Siri has left.

Evi is strictly an information gatherer, grabbing you Internet search results or links to answer your varying questions, which you either speak or type. Evi had trouble when I commanded her to do something — usually by replying she didn’t know how to do that yet — and showed a clear preference for questions in her ability to answer. A clear speaking voice is required if you want Evi to have a chance of providing accurate answers (and even this isn’t guaranteed). Evi can use your current location as a basis for her answers, but I don’t know that I’d rely on her for advice in an area where I’m unfamiliar. When I asked Evi where the bank was, she gave me a ton of results, but missed all of the options closest to me. The word “nearby”  helped narrow the search, but in an unfamiliar locale you might not know this is necessary. I also didn’t find Evi to be speedy in gathering her answers. That makes the app a particularly tough sell for me — if I can complete a search in Safari and get answers in half the time, that’s clearly the smarter, albeit less-high-tech, option.

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Evi is powered by Nuance Communications’ technology, which is purported to be the tech behind Siri on iPhone 4S. That’s cool, but if the tech is all you want, Nuance’s own Dragon Go! is the better app for non-4S users. In addition to searching, Dragon Go! integrates with other apps on your device (such as Maps or Pandora) and provides more comparable assistance to what Siri provides — free.

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Kathryn Swartz

Kathryn Swartz is a freelance writer/editor who doesn't know how people lived pre iPhone. She attended the Missouri School of Journalism.

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