Dragon 4.0 For Android Looks To Best Apple's Siri
June 18, 2013

Dragon 4.0 For Android Looks To Best Apple’s Siri

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Nuance Communications has just released an update to its voice recognition software for Android's Dragon Mobile Assistant. The 4.0 release adds two very helpful features meant to steer users away from their giant touch screens and speak to their smartphone as if it were a computer from the future.

First, the updated app now knows when you´re driving in a car and can automatically switch to Driver Mode, relying on voice instead of touch. Second, the app now listens for a user-specific code word to begin taking commands.

It had been widely assumed that Nuance provided the voice recognition technology behind Apple's Siri when the feature was first released in 2011. It was only a few weeks ago that Nuance´s CEO Paul Ricci finally broke the silence and told the crowd at the All Things D conference last month that his company is the “fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple.”

"Dragon aspires to be an incredibly reliable and intuitive mobile personal assistant, not only responding to commands and providing relevant content, but also anticipating people's needs in the moment-just like a true personal assistant," explains Michael Thompson, Nuance Mobile´s executive vice president and general manager in a press release picked up by Engadget.

When in Driver Mode, the new 4.0 version of Dragon Mobile Assistant switches to voice only and will begin reading incoming texts and messages to you automatically. The app can even be configured to read incoming Facebook notifications while on the road.

Josh Lipe, the director of consumer mobile products at Nuance, told Kevin Purdy of Fast Company this feature doesn´t read these notifications in real-time, sparing users an almost certain deluge of notifications.

The new update also lets users choose a specific trigger word to kickstart Dragon and begin listening for a request. Dragon´s press release suggests users can choose phrases like “Hi Dragon,” “Hey Dude,” or even “Hello Dolly,” if one is so inclined.

This kind of "always-on" convenience comes at a price, of course – namely, battery life.

As an Android app, Dragon is given access to much more information and different parts of the operating system. This means it can replace the Google Now search option if the user prefers Dragon over the baked-in Android option. It´s a big goal, trying to overtake Google´s own voice recognition product, but Lipe says he and his company are up to the challenge.

“We have to perform exceptionally well in all areas: the tuning of the voice, the personalized extension of the user´s question, answering all sorts of questions,” said Lipe in his interview with Purdy.

“Differentiating our product is important, but our user base are people using this application in their work, their driving, at home. We think we´re on to something here.”