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Love it or hate it, Apple's Siri doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of smart personal assistants. Check out these solid apps.
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Do you use Siri a lot, a little -- or not at all?
Well, no matter how frequently you interact with her, you've probably had your fair share of problems with Siri -- as well as times when her performance is just peachy.
When Apple first released Siri, with the introduction of the iPhone 4S in October 2011, iPhone diehards were enthusiastic. The novelty has since worn off, however: More than 18 months later, for some folks the bloom is now off that rose.
Users have kvetched about Siri freezing or about having to repeat commands several times before she gets it. Others are tired of Siri not working when there's a problem communicating with Apple's servers. She can refuse to respond to requests even when your iPhone has reestablished a solid network connection. There are also dictation hassles: Make the slightest pause in your diatribe, for instance, and -- drat! -- Siri might think you're done.
Rivals, most notably Google, are attempting to take advantage of Siri's shortcomings. For example, Google has added conversational capabilities to its Search service.
For all the moans and groans, though, hordes of Siri users are satisfied. We're not saying that you should ditch Siri entirely for other options. But you might want to check out these viable complementary alternatives to expand your team of iOS assistants.
First up: Vokul, for $2.99. When it comes to dictation, Vokul has your back. In true hands-free mode, it lets you dictate emails, texts and posts (for Facebook and Twitter). You don't have to press a button to get its attention; instead, you say "Hey Vokul," followed by your voice action ("Send a text message to Scott"). The soft-spoken feminine voice will prompt you every step of the way and read back what it heard in case you want to edit your spiel before you utter "Send." (Disclaimer: The company notes that due to iOS 6 restrictions, Vokul does not let you automatically send text messages and emails by saying "send" -- you must physically press a button to send messages.)
You can ask Vokul to play a particular tune and to skip forward and backwards among your tracks. You can also navigate podcasts, audiobooks and call contacts using your voice. And if you're so inclined, you can even hear your Facebook and Twitter feeds read aloud. Vokul works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Dig into our slideshow for more Siri alternatives.
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