Sherpa, A New Challenger to Siri19/04/2013
I’ve used Siri a bit, and not to say that it isn’t an impressive piece of software, but it didn’t really wow me like I thought it would. It (she?) had the problem of misinterpreting what I said, or in some cases being very confused as to the nature of my request. I speak in a relatively clear North American accent, and am usually regarded as having a clear speaking voice, but these assistants sometimes have trouble getting me.
This is a problem, not just because it’s annoying when I want a “map of Ho Chi Minh” and instead get directed to a “map of coaching men” (honest-to-goodness result), but because it isn’t reliable enough to be useful. If it takes me just as long to open up my quick apps and find it on Google Maps myself, then I might as well not even use the assistant.
Sherpa is a new product along these lines released by a Spain-based company of the same name. It’s still in beta, so I’m cutting it some slack, but it like all of its Siri kin isn’t something I can use regularly.
It gets very confused on simple things like open [name of app], and sometimes misinterprets what I say. For example, “Open Google Play” should open the Play Store. It does not. For some strange reason, Sherpa googles Google Play in Firefox (my default browser). It’s just not reliable enough to do all of the cool things it should be able to do.
Sherpa may have a long time to go before hitting a final release, so this could be a really early preview version, even if it was released to the public in the Play Store. However, it seems to me to hit all the bumps in the road that current Digital Assistants do, and in doing so, fails to be something that I can regard as much more than a toy for amusement. I’ll probably keep the app installed, just to see where it goes, as it’s the most promising Digital Assistant I’ve seen outside of Siri.
Rating: 2/5 – Lots of promise, but still not useful. Note: In Beta
If you want to know more, here’s a quick article about the new release:
A new voice digital assistant is on the scene in the U.S., but unlike other Siri-challengers Sherpa comes with some overseas work experience. Sherpa launched its Spanish-language Android app in October and has since risen up the Google Play charts in Spain and Latin America. Sherpa has now learned English, and on Wednesday it launched in the U.S. in the Play store.
Most virtual assistants powered by natural language processing are taught to do specific tasks very well but tend to come up short when given unfamiliar assignments. For instance, Siri excels at jobs like making calendar appointments and dictating text messages but can be confounded by more general requests for information, usually resorting to simple web searches.