As much as it annoys us to say, Siri is pretty good. Not because it's accurate or all that powerful because, it isn't but, because of the concept behind it. Voice Control is nothing new, we've had Voice Actions for a long time now but Siri put it all together in an accessible package for all. Now though, it looks like we finally have not only a true alternative to Siri but, a better alternative to Siri. There are a lot of Voice Assistant type apps for Android but none of them offer such a complete feature set like Maluuba does. Join me as we take a look at what makes this assistant so good.
Description: Maluuba is an app that can help you do everything, whatever it might be, Maluuba will be able to help you. Of course, the usual voice search is still here but, like Siri it will respond to a whole host of commands and sort through a phrase to understand what you mean. You'll rarely hear "sorry" from Maluuba. Maluuba isn't just a Siri clone or lookalike, it's far more than that. The app will handle your calendar, tell you about upcoming movies and more. It does all this through either voice or text search and can respond to a whole host of commands. The devs behind the app have done a brilliant video on just how Maluuba can help you:
How It Works: It's really quite easy to get Maluuba up and running, all you have to do is to install the app from the Play Store here and then accept some terms and conditions before the app throws you in.
From there, it's up to you how to use the app. There's so much that Maluuba can do it's just easier to list some of the examples below:
- Set an alarm for when you wake up
- Add calendar appointments
- Check the weather
- Find movie times at nearby theaters
- Find restaurants – from fast food to fancy – near you
- Get directions
- Find upcoming concerts
- Have Wolfram Alpha answer your questions
- Find local stores with whatever you need
It does all this in a very slick manner, it's not slow and it has a design that sort of looks like a cross between what you'd find on Android and on Windows 8. This makes for not only a unique interface but a functional one. You can't really get confused with how simple Maluuba is:
To navigate through the app all you need do is to swipe left and right to get to the various parts of the app. This is all done very intuitively and after a while you'll hardly notice you're doing it. When it comes down to commands the app is really quite brilliant, speak to the app and it will give you a color coded feedback depending on what type of question you asked it. It's red for maps and blue for weather, for example: I asked Maluuba "Find me coffee" and lo and behold it did:
This is simple stuff, of course, what I like however is that I could simply tell it what was happening tomorrow and it would add it to my calender:
As for movie listings, this is awesome, all I had to do was ask when I can see Taken 2 and I had my local cinema, a picture and the showings for the next three days:
Weather is, as predicted, spot on for me as well. I didn't do a voice search for it though, I just went straight to it in the menu which, I can see becoming a comfortable routine for me from now on.
Opinion: For a long time now, I've wondered whether or not there was any value in an application like this – I don't have a lot to organise and what I do, I keep on top of it pretty well. However, with Maluuba you don't just get an app like Siri. You get a modern day personal organiser, and it's all in one app. You can choose to control the app by voice or how you would any other app. This is what will make Maluuba become my everyday thing, the ability to use it my way: it's so flexible and has the capability to do anything I need it to.
It's worth noting that I showed it to a couple of my iPhone owning "friends" and instantly they came away wishing they had such power in Siri, I think it was functioning maps that got them…
- Speed (4/5) – The app itself is fast and snappy however, searches took some time even over WiFi.
- Features (5/5) – No doubt about it, Maluuba comes with so much power inside it that you can have a field day just testing the thing out. Whatever you need day-to-day, this will have it.
- Theme (5/5) – Say what you like – this app is stunning. With a blend of Metro design and Holo theming, it looks good and works brilliantly. This is how UI should be.
- Overall (4/5) – It's important to remember that this is a new app and it's not going to be perfect however, niggles aside, this app is something that will change how you use your phone.
- I live in an out-of-the-way part of middle-England, the app picked up everything perfectly – showing how integrated into Google services it is.
- Movie times were spot on and for the next 3 days, giving me a good choice.
- Having Wolfram Alpha in here will help settle disputes with friends.
- No matter how much you use the app, you'll always find something new.
- Searching seems to take some time.
- Whether this is my phone – HTC One X Tegra 3 model – or my ROM and Kernel (which seemed solid) I don't know but, the app would reboot my phone constantly. Even with different ROM and Kernel combinations. It could be a Tegra 3 thing.
Conclusion: If there was ever an app on Android to change the fundamental way you use your phone then this is it. Maluuba not only provides you with a fancy voice search helper thingy but, a complete personal assistant that, when used properly, will truly help you. There's a lot to love about this great app, it charms with its interface and then wows with it's powerful functionality. If there was something I'd to see it'd be even more functionality and sped up searches as well as some form of interactive tutorial but, as it stands, the app is perfectly solid and works wonderfully. You can get hold of Maluuba in the Play Store.