Since the launch of Siri on the iPhone 4S there has been a number of alternative 'voice' apps appear.Â True Knowledge announce EviÂ in an attempt to introduce some artificial intelligence onto our mobile device.
Rather than pitching it as a Siri replacement/competitor it has been positioned as a knowledge tool.Â Think of it as Google on steroids!
Quoting from the 'sales pitch'
Evi is the revolutionary artificial intelligence here to help with your everyday information needs.
I download the Evi iPhone/iPad App for Â£0.69 -- the Android version is free.Â Basically fire up the app and ask a question.
That is where it all fell apart for me.Â Out of 10 questions asked nine of them results in .... "I'm having trouble getting a response from my servers.Â You might want to try again in a minute".Â Given this is launch day I suspect the server(s) over at True Knowledge are buckling under the demand from interested parties but it's a little frustrating and difficult to keep enthusiastic.Â The one response I did get was very accurate and you could see some intelligence in finding the answer.Â I'm thinking True Knowledge might be rushing out to buy more server capacity!!
Watching it iterate through: Just a second; I'm on it; I'm working onÂ it ...then it fails ... can be soul destroying.
Evi is based on True Knowledge's "semantic technology" and claims to give you the exact information you need.
So a quick test..."What age was Picasso when he died"?
I couldn't actually get a response on the iPhone so I headed over to their website and asked the question (using the same engine we are told).
The answer 91 years, 5 months, 14 days!Â Very precise.Â Same question in various ways gave the same result so she has some good skills.
I threw many questions at the web engine and was mostly pleased with the result, although it would have been good to be shown the source of the information as verification;Â not all answers came with this.Â On a side note, I must say the web page is hideous -- the result is returned in small text in the middle of a plethora of adverts.
So what can I tell you with confidence?
Firstly, it is NOT a Siri replacement, and to be fair they do not claim it is.Â It has no access to native iPhone apps so you can not send a text message, check your diary, look up a contact.
It does however have UK awareness (as well as US) so I can get location-based details such as local restaurants.Â Apple has so far only delivered location-based info to Siri users in the USA.
Like Siri and other voice apps it just can't handle much background noise; the errors in the speech conversion start to irritate and you find yourself realising you can type quicker. This is of course not a failing of Evi.
Sadly, like Siri, I see Evi as a gimmick
I did finally get a response on the iPhone....
Putting aside the Evi App, True knowledge seem to have built a very good knowledge engine and hopefully good things will come of it.
UPDATE: Â Evi - Server Overload