The idea of a personal assistant needs no introduction: you already know Siri, and those of you fortunate to own a Jelly Bean handset (or at least a hacked ICS one) have the privilege of using Google Now. So there's very little we haven't seen here. And yet, we were inclined to take a look at Indigo, a new personal assistant for Android and Windows Phone 8 that launched yesterday, and will be available as a free download in the coming weeks. Meet us past the break to find out why.
Indigo personal assistant hands-on
The app comes courtesy of Artificial Solutions, a company that specializes in natural language. As you'd expect, then, you can expect answers to questions like "What's the weather like in Prague?" (To be fair, this is true of Siri, too.) Also like other assistants, you can ask follow-up questions like "Find me a movie theater there" and Indigo will know you meant Prague because that's what you were just asking about. We also noticed that it completes searches successfully even if you misspell a word ("find mean" instead of "find me," for example).
Some other similarities to existing services: it sources data from places like Yelp and Wolfram Alpha, and can mine your email and calendar appointments, as well as maps and search engines. In addition to voice input, it responds to text queries, which you can't do on Siri, and can only do for search with Google Now. As we found in the noisy Fira Gran Via convention center, it's a useful feature when your surroundings have the potential to drown out voice searches.
What makes Indigo especially unique (aside from the fact that it's WP8-compatible) is that it works across different platforms and different devices. Granted, Nuance is working on something similar, but as of last month it was still in the very early stages, while Indigo is on the cusp of becoming available. In any case, what all this means is that because search is tied to a profile stored in the cloud (as opposed to a particular device), you can start a search thread on your phone and pick it up on a tablet.
Your personal settings will also follow you from one device to another, even if you use a mix of Android and Windows Phone. Oh, and last thing: you can save favorite searches -- not a bad thing if you begin each day asking about the weather. Again, the app will be available to download for free within the next two weeks or so. In the case of Android, specifically, you'll need Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, according to the Indigo website, linked at the bottom of this post. For now, check out some hands-on photos and a quick demo video below. (Psst: we apologize that our video doesn't show the cross-device bit; the faltering internet inside the convention center couldn't handle it. Sorry!)
Sharif Sakr contributed to this report.
Hello Indigo-Artificial Solutions Launches the Ubiquitous Personal Assistant
The world's first truly personal assistant app to follow the users across devices
BARCELONA, SPAIN--(Marketwire - Feb. 25, 2013) - Mobile World Congress - Artificial Solutions (www.artificial-solutions.com), the natural language interaction (NLI) specialist that enables users to have a meaningful, humanlike interaction with technology, today launched Indigo, the world's first intelligent personal assistant app to offer consumers personalization and persistence across platforms and devices.
Highly intelligent personal assistant app with powerful NLI capabilities and broad range of features
Able to remember an individual's preferences to offer truly personal approach
Capable of operating and remembering across multiple device eco-systems
Supported by SDK with intuitive, user friendly graphical interface that eliminates the need for developers to be linguistic experts and allows partners to extend the capability of Indigo
Launched by the leading provider of NLI technology and winner of the Loebner award for AI
Capable of doing everything a user might expect from sending a message or giving directions to playing a tune, Indigo allows users to take her with them as they switch devices. Unlike other personal assistant apps that are trapped on one device, Indigo has a memory, she knows a user's preferences - their likes and dislikes, and because she knows who they are, she can follow them as they switch devices from a computer to a smartphone or tablet, regardless of manufacturer or operating system used. In addition, Indigo's persistence capabilities enable a user to continue a conversation as they switch devices.
Expanding on the intelligent capabilities already available in Artificial Solutions' enterprise virtual assistants such as memory, contextual understanding and the ability to handle conversation interruptions, Indigo is highly intuitive and able to ask for more information, if she thinks an important element such as time, date or person is missing. With Indigo users experience a much more humanlike conversation, which dramatically improves the usability of a personal assistant app.
"Most people today have a computer, a smartphone and a tablet, frequently operating on different platforms. What's the point of having a virtual assistant that isn't able to follow you around and remember your preferences?" says Lawrence Flynn, CEO of Artificial Solutions.
"Indigo was born out of our development work for device manufacturers. She is the first step in our vision to move virtual personal assistants from merely a gimmick only offered with specific devices to one that helps across ecosystems, wherever technology and humans interact."
Powered by Artificial Solutions award winning, patented natural language interaction technology that is able to interpret multiple input methods such as voice, text and gesture, Indigo is a cloud based app that also has persistence capabilities that will allow users to continue conversations with Indigo as they switch between their devices.
Developers can also create apps for Indigo using Artificial Solutions' SDK, which includes Teneo Studio an intuitive tool that eliminates the need for developers to be linguistic experts. Using the SDK, Indigo can interact with any internet enabled device, allowing developers to enhance her skills even further whether it's recording a TV program or controlling the temperature in a user's house, Indigo's capabilities are only limited by the developer's imagination.
For more information about the beta version of Indigo visit www.hello-indigo.com.