Are you an Android user looking for something akin to Siri for your phone? Voice Assistant apps appear on the surface to be a luxury, but once you navigate the ins and outs of using one, you may find it to be a downright necessity. I’m pretty sure I know some people who legitimately depend on Siri to wake them up, put them in the shower, take them to work, feed them lunch and dinner, and then put them to bed at night. Well, iPhone does not have the market cornered here; there are some great voice assistant apps out there for Android and Windows. So move over Siri, you may have met your virtual match.
Today, we want to highlight some of the top Siri alternatives for Android users. We hope to introduce you to some new apps and give you some options that will suit whatever your needs are. That’s the beauty of Android, isn’t it, though? Options. Like, lots of options. So, while we aim to feature these 5 best alternatives to Siri, keep in mind, there are loads more out there. And we’ll be sure to throw out some other names before it’s all said and done. Read on for Appamatix’s 5 Best Siri for Android Alternatives.
May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine. — Frank Sinatra
5 Best Siri for Android Alternatives
Let’s talk about Siri for a hot minute. Because while that particular voice controlled personal assistant application is exclusive to Apple product users (it’s not just an iPhone app, but iPad, iPod, Apple TV and Apple Watch now come with Siri), this was not always going to be the case. In an alternate universe somewhere, Siri is exclusive and comes pre-installed on all Android devices.
WHAT!? “Heresy!” cry the loyalists. It’s true, though. Siri started out as an app just like any other (well, relatively speaking), owned by a company by the same name, and, as made news in a 2013 Huffington Post article by Bianca Bosker, Verizon had signed a deal with Siri in 2009 to make the app exclusive and a default on Android phones. But in 2010, Steve Jobs and Apple wanted more, more I tell you! and acquired Siri just two months after Siri had debuted as an independent iPhone app for somewhere upwards of $150 million. I highly recommend checking out that HuffPost article if this is news to you (I’ll admit, it was news to me, despite the article being a couple of years old). Siri has had a fascinating history thus far and the article intimates that what we know (or knew in to 2013) of Siri is in some ways better but in far more ways lacking from what it could / should have been by now. But you don’t care so much about Siri, do you? You’re here for something other than Siri. Your wish is my command.
Below are a few voice assistant apps out there that may have slipped under your radar. And that’s how we want to think of them: “voice assistant apps.” A lot of these apps are fighting an uphill battle by being described (even when favorably reviewed) as “Siri-like.” Siri, like Kleenex or Ace Bandage, is an instance of a brand name taking over the generic term, which goes a long way towards shutting out potential competitors. But while Apple users are pretty much stuck with Siri, and Windows Phone users all have Cortana, you are not so permanently tied to Ok Google. Here are a few options that are open to you, the savvy Android user:
Released by api.ai, Assistant.ai encompasses a lot of what you want in a voice activated assistant app. It can open apps on your Android device, send emails, read you the news… It even has a handy introduction video, as opposed to making you read everything in a hidden documentation screen, or else, just assuming that you’ll figure it all out. One thing that I think is really neat about Assistant.ai is that when you first install it, you can beckon it with your voice just like you can with any of the big, recognizable voice activated assistant apps out there. But the cool thing with this one is… you can change the command phrase. So instead of prefacing everything with “Ok, Google,” or “Hey, Siri…” you can make it respond to your own unique phrase.
Maybe you want to feel like you’re on Star Trek, so you have it coded to respond to “Computer!” Go for it! (Of course, writing for a tech website, I say “computer” a lot, so it wasn’t the most helpful phrase ever.) Something that didn’t occur to me until just now was setting it to respond whenever I made a fart noise. Sorry, I was nine for a second. Seriously, take a look at Assistant.ai. The developer is pretty active with the updates, the app is free, and it has the most robust set of features of any of the apps I’ve played around with.
To download Assistant.ai, click here.
Andy is a popular one, and has appeared near the top of the list whenever I’ve run a search for these sorts of apps through the Google Play Store (usually second only to the Google app itself… go fig.) There are two tiers of Andy: the free version and the paid version. But the paid version is only $3.99 — pretty cheap for an app of this utility. There’s a novel way to activate this one: instead of a voice command, you will tap the microphone icon on your home screen or, if you have Shake Record available and configured on your Android device, you can give your Android a little shake to get it going.
This manages most of the things you’ll need it for. The current edition has a little trouble with news feeds, but I don’t like to have the news read to me off of a website anyway. Of course, it also has difficulty with weather, and that is one thing that I have just gotten too used to: being able to just ask my phone the weather while I get dressed for the day.
To download Andy, click here.
Dragon Mobile Assistant
I was quite excited to see that Dragon has entered to voice assistant game, because I’ve been quite a fan of their voice-typing software for years. However, while I like the idea of voice typing, I can never get into the habit, so I can’t usually justify paying the high price for what is otherwise a quality software package. If I were going to voice-type, though, I’d use Dragon. Hence my excitement that they have produced this much more manageably priced app.
Among the cool things about this app are that you can post directly to Facebook at Twitter from it. Admittedly, the Facebook functionality is much more useful, as half the joy/work of Twitter is pruning down your complex statement to 140 characters like a hyper-focused Bonsai aficionado. Of course, boasting the voice-recognition experience of Dragon, there is some really nifty bells and whistles here. My favorite being that you can set the assistant to respond only to your voice. Because when I have Siri switched on, I hate it when it chimes in every time someone in the same room says something that even remotely sounds like “Hey Siri.” This will cut down on a lot of that.
Presently, the app is free, which completely boggles my mind.
To download Dragon Mobile Assistant, click here.
This is the one that has wowed a lot of the tech journalists out there, garnering official endorsements from CNET, Wired, Lifehacker… This isn’t some fly by night. Like Andy, this one has tiers: there’s a basic free version you can get from Google Play, but through in-app purchases, you can unlock some of the nicer features. This is fairly robust, but the download page still lists it as being in Beta. It makes you wonder what the full version is going to have!
To download Robin, click here.
Indigo Virtual Assistant
Finally, we have Indigo. This one is a little more by the book. It doesn’t try to tell you knock knock jokes (who cares?), but it also doesn’t do any kind of text-to-type (which, as mentioned earlier, I’m not all that wild about myself, but a lot of users really care about that).
To download Indigo Virtual Assistant, click here.
As previously mentioned, there are so many more out there. I just want to take a minute to mention a few more in case none of the aforementioned have what you’re looking for. We thought we might mention Eva. It’s free and wears red lipstick, but hasn’t really gotten great reviews. We’ve read good things about Jarivs and Alice. We were just about to feature Skyvi, but Skyvi is no longer available. It’s crazy how quickly the wheel turns on these things. One moment, Skyvi was the one to watch out for, and now… well, who watched out for Skyvi?
And that’s something to really consider when choosing an app like this. Because of how the voice recognition works in this generation of tech, you’re giving the developing company a looooot of information about you by allowing the app to overhear everything you say. So maybe you want to stand to the side for a little bit and see which companies have a track record for endurance and aren’t just some fly by night.
And what about you? What is your favorite alternative to Siri for Android? Had any that were a bust? Did we overlook any really stellar apps? Please share in the comments about your experiences with voice activated personal assistants. Unless your experience was like the movie Her… that might be best kept to yourself.