Answer Your Questions With Dragon Go!

There have been a few different assistant apps on the App Store in the past few years, including the popular Siri, which was so great that Apple bought it up. There are even rumors that soon Siri will be integrated into iOS 5, and we’ll all have personal assistants in our pockets.

Until then, Siri has languished from a lack of updates so in came Nuance Communications with their answer, Dragon Go! This is a voice-activated assistance app just like Siri, except on steroids. Want to know more? Hit that more link and let’s get talkin’.

The Premise

It sounds like it’s from an episode of Star Trek, yet here it is in real life. What if we could just talk into our iPhones and ask a question, then get back an answer? Wouldn’t that be like living in the future?

The first step in the tutorial walks you through the process.

The first step in the tutorial walks you through the process.

Well it’s just like living in the future, and it’s actually been around for a year or two now with Siri. The latest competitor to the fold though is Dragon Go!, an app that improves on Siri’s interface while also providing more useful information. Backing it up is the speech recognition software that Nuance is known for, creating a winning combination.

How It Works

The app has a pretty nice tutorial that walks you through how everything works. Long story short, you hit the record button on the screen and then ask your question. You can ask about websites, movies, Twitter feeds or even music on your iPhone, just ask a question and it will spit out the answer.

Part two of the tutorial explains the tab system.

Part two of the tutorial explains the tab system.

The neat trick though is how the results are displayed. When you ask a question — “Directions to 56th street and University” — the app thinks, then pulls up a series of tabs across the top of the screen. The one front and center is what Dragon Go thinks will offer you the best opportunity to answer your question. Any of the tabs flanking the center also have search results, so you just swipe side to side to see what they are. It gives you a wide variety of options, which helps immensely.

Putting It Through the Paces

To see if this thing really worked, I decided to try it out on a few basic tasks to see how it did. First, I asked Dragon Go if it could find me “Voice Notes on AppStorm.” In an interesting twist, it pulled up “Voice Notes on the App Store,” but the first Google hit was our post on AppStorm. Fascinating.

Different searches bring up different results.

Different searches bring up different results.

Next, I shot for the nearest beach. Being that I’m in Arizona, the closest beach is either in Mexico somewhere or off the lower part of Southern California. Sure enough, anything with “Beach” in the name came up on Yelp, which was my first search tab. I tried again with other options, including picking a movie and things like that, and I came up with pretty good results each time. Overall, I’d say Dragon Go! got about 8/10 right.

Expansion

Search is cool, but sharing those results is pretty neat too, and that’s something that Dragon Go! does as well.

Get social and share your findings with friends.

Get social and share your findings with friends.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, hit the arrow on the bottom of the screen and a menu will pop up with all sorts of options. The two that made the most sense to me originally was SMS and email, because if I’m trying to coordinate an event or something similar, that’s the way I’m going to get the word out. But then I thought about sharing links on Twitter and Facebook, and then the app started to take on a new aspect. I could tweet out to the world that I found this great new restaurant on Yelp, or tell all of my Facebook friends about a blog post I found.

Final Thoughts

So is this the perfect assistant? Well, it’s pretty close. I have the Dragon Dictation app on my iPhone, and I use it all the time. I found that Dragon Dictation was more accurate than Dragon Go! in my tests, which was weird because one would think they’re using the same translation engine. I was also debating if this could replace Siri on my iPhone, because Siri hasn’t been updated in a long time now. I think it could, but the wide variety of things it does know versus what it doesn’t means that there’s a little bit of a learning curve to the app. It takes a few rounds to figure out what exactly you can ask it, then remember those terms for the next time.

Overall though, this is a great app. There are a few missteps here and there, but ultimately, it’s one of the best assistants out in the App Store today — just tweak a few things and it’ll be perfect.


Summary

Talk to your iPhone and ask it anything you want, then get your answer quickly.

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