Iris: What It Represents, and Thoughts on App Clones

Earlier this month, Apple unveiled Siri for the iPhone 4S. While the technology behind it isn’t particularly revolutionary, from what I understand it works well and is fun to use.

Not soon after it was announced, a copycat attempt of Siri for Android was created: Iris (“Siri” backwards). Though it is nice to see developers attempt to bring some of iOS’s finer points to Android, there is definitely some way to go yet.

Read on for my opinions on both Iris, and application cloning between smartphone platforms.

Iris Itself

To start with I must say that Iris is nothing new to anyone who uses voice recognition software on their phone. Whether it’s Vlingo or Google’s own onboard functions, you have seen this all before. Standard commands such as ‘send text to John’ makes Iris ask you to speak the message, then confirms if you want to send. It does this with several mistakes, and normally needs several attempts to get it to choose the right person. It also makes for a good dodgy-dictionary tool. I said Bakewell Tart, and got back Victorian Art.

So it’s not very impressive, and I am certain Iris was cobbled together as a ‘look we can do it too’ response to Apple’s Siri announcement. A serious developer would not have released it in its current state, which is why I think it is just a way of saying ‘look what we can do in just 48 hours’ to counter the claims that Siri is magical.


It’s interesting: I often complain that Apple steal Android’s features. I suppose though I love it, Android is also guilty on a very small level of pinching some aspects of iOS. Maybe ‘replicating’ is a more appropriate word to use. After all, there is only so much imagination and creativity that can be applied to what are at the end of the day, just phones. Even if ideas are not directly copied, they are probably thought up at roughly the same time.

Perhaps it is good that this developer had a go at replicating Siri. Alhough it isn’t fantastic, it does pave a little part of the path in motivating other Android developers to have a crack at it. They probably are! After all (putting smartphone wars aside) what is really wrong with people trying to bring the successes of one platform to another? It’s a bit like a ‘one for one’ system exists; iOS has borrowed a few of Android’s features, so does that entitle Android users to enjoy clones of Siri and other iOS features?

My first post for AppStorm was a review of MetroUI, an ongoing project attempting to replicate the Windows Phone 7 Metro interface as an Android home screen. From the point of view of an Android user, its nice to be able to mess around with the Metro interface and enjoy it for ourselves. To WP7 users we are copycats, and probably perceived in the same way Android users look at a lot of iOS users. Makes you think a bit about the fanboy wars that are always being waged. At the end of the day we always want a part of what the other person has, or indeed, what we can’t have.

Final Thoughts

Though it is certainly a good gesture from the Android developer, Iris is more fun than functional. If the developer ever wants their application to be used regularly then they must put in a lot more effort to improve Iris. A speech-recognition and interface tweak would go a long way. If you want to have a play with Iris, here’s the link.

I’d like to pose a question to you all now: Should smartphone features be locked down to one system and copying them frowned upon, or should the re-creation of some features to other smartphones be encouraged? Should it really matter so long as people keep track of who originally invented what?

Go ahead and start some discussion in the Comments thread below!

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  • Joe Casabona

    I personally don’t think it’s the big of a deal to “copycat” features. My beef is with Apple: A) Taking things and pawning them off as their own (Siri, Reminders, Notification Bar), and then patenting everything under the sun (latest: “Swipe to Unlock”). If other companies played the same games Apple did, iOS5 wouldn’t have half of the stuff that it has, including that awesome new notifications bar that everyone with an iPhone seems to love.

    • Sam Cater

      I can’t stand the ignorance of the majority of iPhone users either. Around 15% know and understand Android had a ‘notification bar’ first, but some people I have talked to honestly believe that iOS did it first and Android quickly copied that! Come on…

    • maged farid

      When send last update for motrola xoom 3G and wifi to motrola agent in middle east egypt last update for android is 3.1l wantlast update 3.2 or 4 pls reply ..
      Thanks a lot
      Maged farid

  • Yater

    I asked it “what is Iris” and it failed answer:
    Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (exuberant inflammatory response towards previously undiagnosed or incubating opportunistic pathogens)

  • Sumpter Carter

    If we minded about clones, would we play Gameloft games?

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  • Jason

    I’m not trying to be an anal Android fan but; Siri wasn’t first. There’s an app named Jeannie (once known as “Voice Actions”) on the Android market that was posted before Apple announced Siri and there have been many other programs created for voice recognition prior to Siri.

  • Kantoa

    History repeats itself with APPLE. They claim they did everything first. iPhone users just can’t bare that the Android Platform is ripping Apple a new a**ehole, plus if anything didn’t google have voice recognition before Apple had Siri….! Oh and if Apple want to pull that Patent chestnut, they can stop using the touch screen which was first Patented by Nokia so I’m to believe!

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