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Can You Get Siri for Android or BlackBerry?


siri for android

Siri icon

image copyright Apple Inc.

Siri--the personal digital assistant that you can ask questions, or make requests, of and get intelligent responses from--is probably the most spectacular new feature introduced with the iPhone 4S. Not only does the wow factor that Siri delivers figure prominently in commercials for the phone, but she's also quickly become an important part of how many people use their iPhones.

As with any hot technology like this, people who don't have iPhones and instead use other smartphones often ask can I get that for my phone?

There's a longer answer (which I delve into below), but the short answer is: no, there's no Siri for Android or BlackBerry--and there probably never will be.

To learn more about why the answer is no and why I make that prediction, read on.

Siri for Android?

Since it's an Apple technology (not built by Apple, but instead acquired when it bought a company called Siri in April 2010), Siri only runs on the iOS. Apple doesn't have any track record of creating apps for Android--why would they when the two compete?--so don't expect to see Siri on Android.

But just because Siri isn't on Android doesn't mean Android lacks voice features.

Since Siri's debut, Google has been quick to point out that its Android smartphone and tablet operating system has had something equivalent to Siri for a while: Google Voice Actions. This app allows you to speak to your Android device and have it respond.

Google may claim it, but the two apps really aren't identical. The difference between Voice Actions and Siri, though, is intelligence. Voice Actions works more like Apple's Voice Control software, which lets you speak a name to make a phone call or play a song (though Voice Actions does do more than that). Siri, on the other, can understand context and dependencies like "remind me to buy milk on my way home."

But What About All These Apps?

But wait, you may be saying, there are a ton of apps in the Android Marketplace with Siri in their names. Are those not Siri?

Nope, they're not. Those are apps with voice features that are comparing themselves to Siri (for a short time, one even claimed to be the official Siri for Android) to piggyback on its popularity and to entice Android users looking for Siri-type features. I can't say how close they come (I don't have an Android device, and so haven't used any of them), but it's worth knowing that not matter what they say, they're definitely not Siri.

Siri for BlackBerry

Unlike Android, I didn't see any apps in BlackBerry App World (its app store) claiming to be Siri or deliver Siri-style features when I searched for them. There are, of course, some voice-activation and recognition apps for the BlackBerry and (I believe) some voice features built into the BlackBerry OS, but none of them are as sophisticated or powerful as Siri.

The Bottom Line

As I said above, I don't expect we'll ever see Siri on any mobile operating system other than the iOS. That's because Siri is a major competitive advantage for Apple. If you want all the cool things Siri does, right now you have to buy an iPhone (and, eventually, an iPod touch or iPad, or maybe even a Mac or an Apple HDTV). Apple makes its money on hardware sales, so allowing such a compelling feature on non-Apple hardware would remove a major advantage and hurt its bottom line. And that's not something Apple--or any smart business--does intentionally.

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