What's better than Apple's Siri? Android's Tap & Speak, that's what.

What's better than Apple's Siri? Android's Tap & Speak, that's what.

Summary: Siri is an interesting concept but for getting real work done, Tap & Speak beats it--hands down.

TOPICS: Android

"Number one, dispose of this. I'll stick with my Android."

It might be old news to some of you but for me, since I'm still discovering Android's awesomeness, Vlingo's Tap & Speak is a Siri killer. I wish Vlingo would port Tap & Speak to the iPhone. I'd pay $4.99 for it. I might pay more. I'd pay something to have a productive App like that at my disposal. Tap & Speak has a very cool 'Driving Mode' which allows you to use your phone for calling and texting without having to wreck your car to do it. Hands down (pardon the pun), Tap & Speak is way better than Siri.

Watching my wife get frustrated enough with Siri to fling her new iPhone 4S across the room and yell, "Siri is useless!" is enough to make me realize that I don't need or want Siri. I have an iPhone 4, so I don't have a choice but even if I did, I wouldn't use it. I'm sure some people find it useful and helpful but I'm not one of them. Neither is my wife. Our 18-year-old son doesn't use Siri on his 4S either. I believe he colorfully compared Siri's usefulness to the operational nature of a vacuum cleaner.

I don't think Siri is necessarily bad but I do think it requires some training and practice but there are no help files nor is there a website that helps train users how to better use it. And, before you give me that whole, "Apple is intuitive" thing, let me say that Siri is not your typical intuitive Apple application nor is it intuitive.

Tap & Speak gives me examples and a step-by-step how-to on first use. I like that. I also like that I can tap or just say, "Hi Galaxy" to begin a new conversation. No, Tap & Speak isn't perfect but it's a level above Siri. I can actually be productive with Tap & Speak. Siri is cute but virtually useless for me--the few times I've used it, that is.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big Apple device fan. In fact, if you've read this blog from the beginning, I didn't want an Android device. At all. It was thrust upon me. But, the longer I use it, the better I like it. It has some really cool features that I wish my iPhone 4 had. One is the ability to connect to the device's lower level self. With my Android phone, I can SSH to it from another computer or open a console to the OS from the device itself.

OK, not everyone needs to do that but I rather like having that feature. I don't want to even think of jailbreaking a device just to get some "should be included from the factory" features.

I'm especially excited by Vlingo's merger with Nuance. If you don't know, Nuance is the company that makes Dragon Naturally Speaking software, which is the best speech recognition software on the market. I foresee a truly intelligent conversational device control coming soon to just about everything near you.

With the blend of those two intelligent speech recognition software companies on the same team, I think we'll soon be able to actively navigate to addresses in our cars, make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and do all sorts of SciFi-type things using voice recognition. With superior voice recognition and communications plus Google Car type self-driving cars, even the visually impaired will be able to drive a car. These are exciting times.

You might find it somewhat of a stretch from making a phone call to driving a car but that's just the way my mind works. Too bad I don't get paid to come up with ideas and solutions for new products. I'd really like that gig. Heck, I came up with the idea of a self-driving car when I was a kid. I knew it could be done and I knew how to do it but convincing anyone to listen was the hard part. Now, with Siri and and Tap & Speak, I have a built-in audience for my ideas, my jokes and my disruptive dialog.

The best part is that, so far unlike their human counterparts, they just have to listen.

What do you think of Siri vs. Tap & Speak? Talk back and let me know which you think is superior.

Topic: Android


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • The problem with Android....

    .........is that there is so much software competition one is spoilt for choice.
    Whereas with Apple you do not get choice so everything is only mantra.
    • Care to explain?

      There is no choice on iOS but you can choose to use Vlingo as well as others if you want? How is that not choice? Did you even bother to check or just immediately jump to repeating talking points?
  • Tell Me

    I find the Tell Me service on my Windows Phone to be very good. I was surprised that Suri couldn't even open an App when they announced that "new" feature yesterday. I've been launching apps, sending hands free texts and dialing contacts with my Windows Phone for a year. Tell Me isn't cute like Suri but it does work.
    • I agree tell me

      Is really great, additionally if you want more than what Tell me can provide, Ask Ziggy works well. I guess hype is something that Microsoft falls behind Apple in.
    • My iphone friends are upset with my Titan

      I've been very pleased with the voice functions built into Windows Phone 7. I talk to the phone and it performs a task. It tells me I have a call, message, text etc. It can read me the message and I can speak a text back to someone. My friends with androids aren't surprised because they know I've been able to do this for ages. My friends with iphones are absolutely shocked, and then upset like I've stolen their thunder.
      • Your friends need to learn then.

        Just because your friends don't know how to do any of the things you listed doesn't mean the phone and Siri can't. I don't use Siri that much and don't think by any means that just because "she" is on the iPhone she is the best but have been doing most of what you mentioned all along as well. Just because neither you or your friends could be bothered to verify you knew what you were talking about doesn't mean your right.
    • Yeah ... you are happy with something crappy

      A lot of people are very happy with crappy products. That doesn't mean the crappy product is really any good. Only good for you.

      Even the biggest MS fan websites agree that Tell Me sucks compare to everything else on the market.
  • I have always said that

    I have said that since Siri was launched. The handsfree mode is just a million times better than Siri and the Android version of VLingo is much more integrated into the phone.
    • VLingo

      is crap on Android... the voice recognition sucks out loud - the native Voice Command on iOS is far superior to VLingo on Android. Using the same bluetooth headset it took about 10 tries for VLingo to dial a contact in my phonebook vs 1 time for the native iOS voice command to dial the same contact - and I have my contacts synced between the devices. The MotoSpeak software isn't much better on Android.
      • vlingo

        so true. i just switched from bb and it stinks on android. what is the purpose of having speak when you are in the car and have to look down at the phone to activate it.
  • Siri is garbage.

    I love my 4S, have had it since launch, and I might have used Siri like 3 or 4 times. Only one of those times was not to just goof around with it. I was driving and trying to get store hours for a JR Cigars, so I was simply saying "JR Cigars" and good God did Siri butcher it, like 15 times. I eventually gave up. In fact, I just disabled Siri. I don't need that crap, my fingers aren't broken lol.
    • Maybe it's you?

      No offense, not trying to bash you or anything but do you have an accent or maybe don't speak clearly? Reason I ask is that you claim Siri butchered JR Cigars 15 times yet I just tested "her" and she got it for me 5 times straight with no issues. Of course there isn't a JR Cigars around me but she understood what I was saying. There could have also been background noise that was the issue.
  • tap and speak vs. siri

    I can't comment on tap and speak really, but I did for a while have vlingo on my nokia N8 running symbian. I also have an iPhone 4s that work gave me as my work phone. I find Siri to be amusing but useless. I spend more time on Siri using it more as a game (ask it questions to hear it's stupid sometimes funny answers). Vlingo when I used it was more useful, but was very limited, at least on the symbian platform.

    So, my favorite and I haven't tried it for a while, but I liked asking Siri "what is the best smart phone", to which Siri responded, "the one you're holding of course". But then I would ask "Why?", and Siri's answer was "I don't know, I've been wondering that myself". It was CLASSIC.
  • you may...

    you may have found the problem. Siri is very useful, and does the things you try to imply it doesn't (with some being added in iOS6 later), but people don't understand how to use it. I think the problem is that people try to use it like its a computer instead of just talking to it. When I started just using full sentences like I was talking to a person, it started getting a lot smarter, and a lot more helpful. I also have no problems letting Siri handle my phone calls and texting while driving without having to look at the phone at all...
    • In other words: blame the user

      [i]people don't understand how to use it[/i]

      Then it isn't intuitive and it has a steep learning curve and you need an instruction manual and training in order to use it.
      • On the contrary. It is intuitive. It's just that

        you've been conditioned to think like a computer by lazy developers.
      • yes...

        @ baggins_z

        And intuitiveness gets defined only when you come clean slate.... without getting "conditioned" by all mortal means....
      • Did he say either?

        He did not blame the user and did not say that there is a steep learning curve. Of course when have you ever gotten anything right so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
    • as always....

      That is the best thing... when people have complains about Apple's offerings, it is always they are to be blamed since they don't know how to use it (curators of excellent users experience because a "user does not know what she/he wants" ... as once Jobs mentioned in one of the interviews) but if people have complains about others' offerings, it is because others' products suck.... Can we hear ourselves back? I think we can't... since our choices become part of the "extended self".... and who wants to be proved wrong?
      • That's bull and you know it

        The author even mentioned this is not a usual Apple product, it does have a bit of a learning curve. Nobody has stated that Siri is perfect. We are conditioned to things one way and that is not the best way with Siri. Is this the user's fault, of course not. Is Siri perfect, of course not. Is Siri the best option out there, on the individual user can decide for themselves but probably not. Is Siri far more capable and much better than the haters would like everyone to believe, most definitely.