SoundHound is a pretty popular music recognition app, similar to Shazam. It listens to music you’re playing and tells you to the name of the song and the artist.
However, SoundHound has expanded its horizon by working on a virtual assistant to outperform Google Now, Siri and Cortana. In the incubator for the past nine years, the app is now out for the world to see and be amazed.
Called Hound, the app was promoted from private beta on Tuesday and is now available on iOS and Android. The app feeds from 150 sources, including Uber and Yelp, and it’s fairly easy to use.
When you open the app, you can either tap on the microphone to ask Hound a question or just say, “OK Hound,” which activates the app’s listening feature. You can use the app to find out basic information about nearby businesses or about weather forecasts, but Hound can do so much more than that.
For example, the app can tell you how far away the closest Uber is, or calculate a mortgage for you. It has no problem to answer with lightning speed to your inquiry about the price of a room at a pet-friendly resort you want to visit several months down the line.
So far, Hound’s quickness was rated to beat any other voice assistant currently on the market. Even though its answers are not perfect, Hound for iOS is reasonably accurate; users can also ask follow-up questions if the results are not narrow enough.
Hound’s fastness is one of its most important selling points, as the app needs to work around the disadvantage of not being shipped by default on any device or operating system.
It also needs to compensate for the fact that users need to open it first, unlike other integrated virtual assistants which can respond instantly simply by voice command.
So why would anyone choose Hound over Siri or Google Now, both of which are integrated by default in smartphones?
Unlike the AI that powers other digital assistant and which is designed to translate voice to text and then text to meaning, Hound has found a way to turn voice into meaning quicker and with more complex queries.
While Siri wins at the convenience of use – especially when it comes to Apple’s services like Calendar, Mail, iMessage – Hound wins at speed. Moreover, you won’t have to perform vocal gymnastics to get Hound to understand what you’re asking for.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if one of the tech giants will soon purchase Hound to make their personal assistants better.
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