Android users who want a voice-controlled assistant like Siri may get their chance with a new app, but the clone could potentially draw legal attention and threaten Apple’s trademarked iPhone 4S add-on.
The clone, nicknamed “Iris,” or Siri in reverse, was built in just eight hours during a hackathon by workers at Dexetra.com, who set out to replicate Siri, the new feature only available on the iPhone 4S.
Like Siri, Iris allows users to search by voice on various subjects, including art, literature, biology and more. For example, if you ask it “what is a fish,” it will show you a paragraph from Wikipedia about the creatures.
Reviewers said the new app is a bit sparse, but they found it uses the already-existing Android speech-to-text functions, so the programming may expand as the app team continues working on it.
“When we started seeing results, everyone got excited and started a high-speed coding race,” said team leader Narayan Babu. “In no time, we added voice input, text-to-speech… not until late evening, we decided on the name Iris, which would be Siri in reverse. We were still in the fun mode, but when we started using it the results were actually good, really good.”
The work is still going on to build the app to fuller capabilities, but Iris might have some problems getting legally launched on the Android Marketplace. Rival Apple has little tolerance for Android, especially considering that late Steve Jobs vowed to “destroy” the OS, accusing Google of copying Apple’s systems and design for its development.
Iris is the product of a fun hackathon that is getting a great deal of attention for possibly one day being a valid Siri stand-in. However, if Apple decides it wants to protect its investment in Siri from being copied on another system, the clone could be short-lived.
The app, though, is being lauded by some analysts for being proof that Android’s developers are pushing forward with some quick, accurate software that could add further functionality to the Android devices. Iris may keep Android toe-to-toe with its iOS rival, but the software may have to gear up for a big battle if it goes any further in the marketplace.