Siri is very clever, and has had a significant impact on how iPhone users interact with the world of information. The problem is, Siri is iPhone 4S only, and even the new iPad has only voice dictation.
We've looked at Evi, which is a third-party solution, but it's had some reliability issues (so has Siri), and I think iOS users are looking for a bit more.
Well, I can suggest another solution called Voice Answer, which is in the app store as of today. It's not perfect, but it appears to give more thorough answers and more graphical answers to queries. The app is universal and sells for US$3.99.
It supports direct questions about hundreds of topics on history, the current weather, nutrition, physics, solving math problems, stock questions, etc. There is a 'chat box' function which allows you to engage in conversation, although that is a bit hit and miss.
The developers say they are finalizing an update that will include messaging and email, along with some unannounced features.
I find the answers generally more complete than Evi, and it seems to answer more questions directly than Siri can. Often, Siri throws you to the web, while Voice Answer gets you the information without that step. Like Siri and Evi, one of the biggest information providers is Wolfram Alpha.
Like all apps, it is not perfect. I asked where the nearest golf course is and the answer was "I don't know." Asking about directions to Phoenix got a "Your question is not clear to me."
The directions to Phoenix didn't work very well in Evi either. It told me to try Google route planner. Thanks. Siri handled that query just fine.
Still, Voice Answer works well on a lot of questions you want a quick answer to. I like the graphical displays, and I saw no issues with server side reliability. Of course that could change if Voice Answer gets more popular.
If you're without Siri I'd give this app a serious look. Even if you have Siri, which I do, I found the app useful, especially on my iPad, and it will likely get better. Since no iPad has Siri, iPad owners will want to check this app out too.
Some screen shots are in the gallery below.