A new voice search and personal assistant app called Hound debuted on iOS yesterday that apparently outperforms Siri, Google Search and Cortana in terms of speed and recognition accuracy.
Developed by the creators of music-recognition app SoundHound, the new app provides extremely fast responses to complex, nested natural language queries with highly accurate results and location-based suggestions.
Hound uses a simple single-button interface similar to the Google Search app for users to tap and ask a question. Alternatively, users can say “Ok, Hound” to initiate a query, which can broach a multitude of subjects, including weather, GPS navigation, directions, Uber, web searches, and local hotel, bar and restaurant queries.
As well as stock price, flight status, date, time, alarm and timer requests, users can also activate a Shazam-style music recognition feature called “SoundHound Now”, which also responds to sung and hummed queries.
Many of the queries are already handled by Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant Siri, however it is Hound’s reaction speed, language translation and search accuracy that make the app particularly noteworthy, according to The Verge.
The app is so fast that it can produce near real-time translations of whole sentences in other languages, and it can spit back mounds of requested data faster than you could ever possibly glean it from Google with a keyboard.
The software’s true appeal is understanding questions within questions and sussing out human context. You can give it sprawling, absurd requests nested inside other requests like, “What is the population and capitals of Japan and China, their area in square miles, and the population of India, and the area codes of France, Germany, and Spain?” and Hound will give you the information just seconds later.
The developers are apparently reluctant to disclose how the app is able to perform so well compared to competing voice-activated services. However, SoundHound CEO Keyvan Mohajer puts it down to a new “speech-to-meaning” language processing technique.
In essence, while other digital assistant software translates what you speak into text and tries to figure out what you said, Hound supposedly skips that step and deciphers your speech as it hears it.
Despite Hound’s impressive abilities, iOS users will take some convincing to adopt the app in replace of Siri, which comes baked into Apple’s operating system and can be voice-activated at any time without having to open an app.
Hound is a free download on the U.S. App Store and is compatible with iPhone and iPad.
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