Nothing against Apple and all those iClone users out there, but I’m a Google/Android guy. I kind of like not knowing whom the manufacturer of my next phone is going to be. Probably a reaction to my life and how predictable it’s become. Every two years that stranglehold of a carrier contract releases me and I’m FREE to choose a new phone! Wow. Life on the edge.
Of course, with Apple’s now-not-so-new introduction of Siri I was forced to reconsider my allegiance to Android. As I’m sure everyone knows, Siri is the much talked about personal assistant feature on Apple’s new iPhones. You can use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and ask it fair questions like “why does anyone pay for cable anymore when Netflix so rocks?” Don’t be a hater!
As clever as Siri may be, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make the switch. Fortunately for me, quicker than you could ask “are there any other personal assistants?” several Android based Siri competitors emerged, filling one of most temporary gaps in mobile history. The most prominent of the Android competitors is Iris, a personal assistant app developed by Dexetra, an Indian company. Supposedly they developed Iris in 8 hours, confirming that Dexetra is not just a company but the Indian street name for speed.
Before writing this review, I tried to avoid online commentary about the name. La la la la la la, I’m not listening to you. So much chatter all the time. Here’s a thought: someone create an app that with click of a button removes all subjective bullshit and distracting commentary from my search results (sorry, it’s late at night and I’m irritable).
Anyway, my opinion on the Iris name:
I like it. I really do. That’s it.
Okay, there’s more.
By now many of you are probably aware that Iris is Siri spelled backward. Of course that wouldn’t be very interesting if the result weren’t so compelling.
Why do I think it’s a compelling result?
Well, because it’s a personal assistant of sorts humanizing the technology makes a lot of sense. Poor ol’ Siri. I bet he/she/it didn’t even realize his/her/its name spelled backward was a really sexy and smart blonde.
Actually, I’m almost certain about that. Though I didn’t come across much information about the origin of the Siri name, I know that Siri is the company that Apple acquired to obtain the technology and that Siri is a spinoff of another company called SRI. It’s possible that Siri may have been how folks at SRI pronounced their company name. Right or wrong, it’s not likely that anyone ever considered the reverse spelling of the word.
Of course personification isn’t the only thing going for Iris. In addition to taking an appropriately human form, the name is truly meaningful. Through association with our eyes and our brains, the word speaks to vision, intelligence, and insights. Whether it’s true (and it’s not), it suggests precision and accuracy. It’s also the Greek word for “rainbow”, which could arguably imply finding answers and reaching the unreachable.
And it’s short. 4 letters. 2 syllables. Perfect for a phone app with little screen real estate.
For me, it’s also much more dignified than most of its competitors. A quick search in the Android market for Siri-type personal assistants returns the following:
Speaktoit (well, that’s getting’ to the point at least)
Dragon Go! (if there’s a drag feature that might be interesting)
Cluzee (Clooney in drag??)
Jeannie (that’s original)
myBantu (okay, you can keep it)
Alice (there’s only one Alice, and I don’t think I’m asking her for directions)
EVA (EeeeeeeVaaaaaa )
Zahdoo (doo doo)
So I really do like the name. Not sure the geniuses at Dexetra put any more time into the name than they put into the app, but in any case I like it.
Before grading though I want to share the results of my Iris Q&A. I downloaded the app to experiment with it, and as I suggested earlier I didn’t find it particularly accurate. The following questions yielded the following answers:
Q: What does IRIS stand for? (The first time it didn’t understand me and thought I asked “What does IRA stand for?”)
A: IRA stands for Individual Retirement Annuity. It can also stand for Individual Retirement Arrangement and International Reading Association. (okay, not bad if I had said IRA)
Q: What does IRIS stand for? (he asked again)
A: I have to process that one for a while. (Really? You don’t have an answer for your own name??)
Q: Which is better, a cat or a dog?
A: I always prefer the more expensive one. (that doesn’t make any sense on multiple levels)
Q: Do people name things for a living?
A: Not that I know of. (okay, now you’ve offended me)
Q: I play guitar. Do you?
A: Yes, I do play guitar! You can hear me play guitar at www.myspace.com/north (alright–fully redeemed! Iris is a sexy, smart, axe wielding blonde!)
Okay, so maybe the Android developer community needs to keep working on their personal assistants, but I’m stickin’ with the platform.
Overall Name Grade: A-
Overall App Grade: C+