For iOS users without Siri, there is Evi

We have seen Siri clones in the Android Market trying to pass themselves off as the real thing, and some Siri alternatives making their way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Evi, on the other hand, might actually be the first true Siri competitor/alternative for Android and non-iPhone 4S iOS users.

Available on the App Store for 99 cents and free to Android users on the Android Market, Evi is the work of True Knowledge and its “core semantic search technology” better known as The True Knowledge Answer Engine. The 99-cent price tag on iOS is apparently to cover the cost of using Nuance voice recognition (the same voice recognition tech as Siri), which is not used in the Android version.

The app’s iTunes page explained Evi is capable of returning local data for the United Kingdom (along with the United States), which has been a complaint from U.K. Siri users since the iPhone 4S launch. According to TechCrunch, the app uses “an ontology of tens of thousands of classes into which” every possible user command can be recognized. True Knowledge said the app contains “almost a billion ‘facts’ (machine understandable bits of knowledge)” with the ability to infer trillions if necessary. It also reportedly uses all the expected sources, such as local results from Yelp, third-party websites, traditional web searches, and APIs.

While as of yet Evi is incapable of integrating with Calendar and Reminders like Siri, TechCrunch pointed out it sometimes provides more accurate and useful results for certain types of questions. Siri requests to search the web for an answer when users ask certain questions, such as “How do I make apple pie?” Evi, however, would provide a list of recipes with relevant links to that specific question. TechCrunch highlighted another example where Evi excels:

Read more

Does the new Google Music match iTunes?

At an event in L.A. this afternoon, Google revealed their revamped music streaming service called Google Music. Music was previously in beta for the last three months, but today has launched to everyone (in the U.S.) and includes a set of new features. Music will continue using the Music Manager application, that was available in the beta, to let users upload music to the web locker for streaming on Android devices and through the web. Users are able to upload up to 20,000 songs for free and can have them available offline on their Android devices.

The big news regarding Music is its huge integration into the Android Market and new Music Store. Millions of songs are now available for purchase from both Android and the Music webpage. Songs range from 99-cents to a $1.29, and every song has a 90 second preview and will be downloaded as a 320k MP3 — available on Android devices and in the web locker. Music can also be shared with friends over Google Plus, and friends will receive a full free play of the song (or album) once you share it.

Google said today an iOS app will also be on its way. While users can play music from their locker with the mobile web app (check out our hands on) on iOS devices right now, a native app will definitely be a bonus.

When it comes to what songs are available, Google has locked in Sony, EMI, and Universal for music licensing (What? No Warner?), and also has close to 1,000 smaller labels. 13 million tracks will be available over time, but 8 million are available today. Users can upload any song to the locker, however, regardless of label.

Another new feature announced in Music today is Artist Hub, a place that allows artists to share music to fans. Artists can build their own unique artist page to upload content and sell their songs for $25 a year.

So how will Google Music compete with iTunes?

Read more