Meet one-eyed Evi, a one-dollar alternative to Siri which works on older (non-4S) iPhones.
She’s had a bit of a rough introduction to life, thanks to a much-hyped launch followed by 24 hours or so of struggling to keep up with demand.
All my efforts to get useful information from Evi yesterday came to nothing, constantly met with a request that I try again later. But this morning things are much improved (no doubt as a result of Evi’s makers rushing to give her a helping hand) and the answers started to appear.
The first thing to note is that Evi isn’t a personal assistant like Siri. Evi is better described as an information assistant, delivering answers to specific questions. She can’t send a text for you (although her Nuance-powered voice recognition is excellent), she can’t set reminders or alarms or calendar entries.
But she can do simple calculations, currency conversions, and fact-finding.
And like all good virtual assistants these days, she knows that she’s not supposed to open the Pod Bay doors when you ask, and that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 (of course).
That’s because Evi is powered by True Knowledge, a Cambridge (UK)-based information service that calls itself “the internet answer engine”. True Knowledge knew 635,025,637 facts at the time of writing, and is learning new ones all the time. Chances are the nugget you need might well be hidden among them.
Evi’s local knowledge is better than I expected, too. I live in a small market town but she knew about the award-winning Thai restaurant down the road, and how to get to my nearest pub. Well done Evi. As long as your server issues don’t continue to bog you down, you’re worth a dollar for those of us who can’t use Siri because our phones are too old.