Evi hits the App Store, provides a low-cost alternative to Siri

Jan 30, 2012
Tech

The success of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant app built into the iPhone 4S, has brought on a flood of imitators. It’s hard to blame developers who are trying to catch a little bit of the voice-activated lightning in a bottle that has helped Apple hit a record quarter at the end of 2011, but […]

The success of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant app built into the iPhone 4S, has brought on a flood of imitators. It’s hard to blame developers who are trying to catch a little bit of the voice-activated lightning in a bottle that has helped Apple hit a record quarter at the end of 2011, but none of the apps offered on iOS or Google’s Android platform quite match the power of Apple’s version.

The latest contender, and one that’s receiving a lot of attention, is Evi. It just hit the iTunes App Store and Google’s Android Market, with price tags of $0.99 and free, respectively. Evi can do some of what Siri can, and do it similarly, although the app isn’t quite as robust as its Apple-made counterpart.

What Evi can do is search the Internet and answer voice-delivered questions, much in the same way Siri can. As Mashable reports, Evi access the Internet to find information in much the same way as Siri, finding answers to questions by referencing multiple sources, often providing simple answers to questions after searching. It also provides links that can be accessed in its built-in browser. And of course, Evi responds to plain-English questions, which is the hallmark of Siri.

But Evi also has its limits. Because Siri is an Apple product, Apple gives it access to lots of other apps, which is why you’re able to use the app to dictate text messages or emails and send them without ever pushing a button. Evi can’t access those apps, and so it’s limited in comparison to Siri. It’s also only 99 cents, and being so cheap, it makes sense that it’s not so robust as a piece of software backed by Apple and its mounds of cash.

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But although Evi might not be up to the same level of power that Siri packs, that hasn’t stopped it from seeing quite a few downloads and a lot of interest since it was launched on Jan. 23. It also has garnered quite a few reviews on iTunes in which users complain about receiving “server is busy” messages from the app when asking it questions. It seems Evi has been a little too popular for its own good, and a flood of users downloading and running the app has bogged its servers down quite a bit.

In testing Evi late on a Sunday night, the results were fairly good. Evi found my nearest Starbucks and tracked down a decent answer as to the reasons why a cat might have accidents on the furniture, and only stalled out with a server issue once. Notably, though, Evi just about always knew what I was asking it with little work on my part.

For $0.99, it seems Evi might be a decent alternative to Siri, although one shouldn’t expect the power of Apple’s new software darling out of an app that costs a buck. Still, if you’re itching for the power of Siri without the upgrade, Evi is one solid alternative. It seems that for the real deal, however, iPhone owners who didn’t spring for the 4S might want to wait to see what Apple rolls out on the Siri front with the iPhone 5, expected out this summer.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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