Mike was instantly drawn to Android with the release of the G1 and HTC Magic which became his first phone. Drawn by the allure of open source and community, he quickly learned about rooting his device and applications to improve its performance Since then he has only owned Nexus devices for their ease of root level access and the ability to run the latest versions of Android via ROM or stock. He has owned a Nexus One, a Nexus S 4G, a Nook Color, and a Nexus 7.
He started writing for Android in 2011 at Android Activist and started writing for Rootzwiki News in April 2012. He was married in October, 2012 and lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Assistant, formally known as Speaktoit Assistant, received a fairly large upgrade this week. Similar to Siri, Assistant is a voice interaction companion that can understand standard verbal communication. It can also launch applications and integrates with several services such as Google and Facebook. With Google Now expanding and potentially soon consuming the voice assist market, I went ahead and gave the update a look and pondered their new and interesting in-app pay model.
The free and basic application truly lives up to its name. With very little setup, I was able to map locations, save notes to Evernote, check into venues with Foursquare, Tweet, search websites/images, check the weather, send emails, etc. The assistant can be set up to be a female or a male with support from other TTS engines such as SVOX or Loquendo. I have used TTS engines previously with other applications and ,with some adjustment, they all worked really well. That level of customization is probably advanced to some everyday users and not worth the trouble.
What has to be most interesting is the pro version which is now a paid subscription model. For two dollars a month, full features such as additional voices, priority support, and unlimited access to all of Assistant's services become available. I think selling a full paid version with a one time cost would be more effective, I certainly do not wish to pay a monthly fee for something most people enjoy for free with their devices. I can see someone who relies on a full suite of voice commands finding some benefit enough to pay in app for full service via subscription, but I cannot see most end users justifying an expense on this level.
Here is that full list of feature updates for the free model:
The Assistant speaks German now
Briefing now includes your Facebook friends' Birthdays
You can give nicknames to people from your contact list. Not just one, as many as you want
Lots of other improvements and fixes
And here are the premium features:
Teach your Assistant to reply to your own commands for its existing skills
Enjoy paid voices for free
Use all services without limitations to number of requests
I would be interested to hear from those of you who find this program to be worth the $24 per year the pro feature subscription commands; if you think paying per month for a few extra features isn't worth it, we'd like to know as well. The developers at Speaktoit have certainly done great work and look to expand to other platforms, but do you think this model will work? It's certainly a creative plan to monetize and support their staff, and I'd be interested to hear what other users think of their service.
Assistant is available for free in the Google Play Store