iPhone owners eagerly anticipated Apple's integrated voice-controlled personal assistant when the new technology
was first announced. Since then, however, some have been less than impressed
’s capabilities. Now, with competitors like Google entering the mix
, iPhone and Android users can choose from a wider array of apps that may be better suited to their specific needs.
Siri reacts only to direct questions, but A.R.O.’s
new “ambient companion” app Saga anticipates
tasks using accumulated location-based data
. Through embedded smartphone sensors, Saga can track where a person has been, the route taken to get there, and with whom they're meeting without manual check-ins. Once it learns the user’s daily activity patterns, it makes personalized recommendations. For example, “You’re at Home Depot? Maybe you should grab a bite at that Indian place up the road. After all, it’s lunchtime, you’re hungry, and you love Indian food.” Saga also displays visual imagery of how users spend their time over days, weeks, and months for "quantified life summaries."
Iris: Lowe’s Home Improvement
recently launched Iris
, a cloud-based “smart home” system for mobile device owners who want to monitor their homes’ security. The Iris Smart Hub’s
sensors track the motion of doors and windows, thermostat temperature, and smart plugs that indicate when an appliance needs to be turned on or off. A mobile companion app
provides real-time monitoring, video feed footage and appliance control. If a sensor is triggered, up to six people can be alerted via app, text or email, but the choice of whether or not to contact emergency services is up to the user, since false alarms are common.
Following the release of text-to-speech apps like DriveSafe.ly
and Caller ID Reader
, iSpeech Home
is a new platform for smart households that aims to set the standard for voice command technology in common appliances like TVs, home entertainment systems, lighting, refrigerators and washing machines. Whereas people can ask
Siri where the nearest sushi restaurant is, they can order
iSpeech to “Watch ESPN,” or “Turn off the lights in the living room.” COO Yaron Oren explains
, "Siri has done an amazing job of bringing this vision to life on the iPhone, and we are helping bring it to more applications, more platforms and new markets such as the connected home."