In his series on apps for Android-using lawyers, The Droid Lawyer blogger Jeffrey Taylor has covered note-taking and digital dictation. Today, he covers those nifty voice-command apps that help turn your smartphone into a digital personal assistant.
When someone says “mobile personal assistant,” most of us think of the Apple iOS’s Siri. That lovable digital assistant took the world by storm, changing the way we interact with our mobile devices. Of course, being an Android lover, I bemoaned the fact that Apple beat the Google guys to that tremendous innovation. However, Apple’s glory wasn’t long lasting, as Android developers jumped on the tracks and started racing to build a Siri look-alike.
At first, most of the apps were poor competitors, barely able to eat lunch with “the cool kids.” Then apps like Vlingo and, my favorite, Speaktoit Assistant (reviewed here) appeared—apps that in some ways performed more functions, more smoothly than their iOS competitor.
When Google announced Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the search giant decided it was going to play in the voice automation sandbox. It introduced Google Now (free), which boasts an ability to “get you just the right information at just the right time.” While Google Now is nice, I think of it as more of a search tool than a digital personal assistant. Certainly right now, in its infancy, it’s far from being the Siri-killer.
Google Now hasn’t stop the developers, though, especially Nuance, the maker of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. (Unfortunately, the Nuance crew refuses to give us a Dragon NaturallySpeaking app, but they are producing fine Siri competitors. It’s probably a good marketing move, but I’d much prefer the DNS app!) I lamented the introduction of Nuance’s Dragon Go! app, but I have heartily praised its redeeming (and free) app, Dragon Mobile Assistant (DMA). Dragon Mobile Assistant provides a near-Siri experience for Android users. It’s a great app grab, providing a lot of information for a grand price.
But DMA is not my uber-favorite Android assistant app. That honor goes to Maluuba (reviewed here), which provides form, function and beauty, all in the palm of your hand. What I love about Google Now, Speaktoit Assistant and DMA, Maluuba combines into one action-packed, fully functional app for the low, low price of free. Honestly, if you don’t like using Maluuba, you’re probably using it wrong.
I used to envy my friends’ Siri-enabled iPhones and iPads, wishing I could open my mouth and open my apps. Now I can, and with some apps, I can even do it better. So hold your heads and your devices high, Android users!
Jeff Taylor is a lawyer in Oklahoma City, and the author of The Droid Lawyer, a blog for lawyers using Android devices. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffrey taylor and on Google+.
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