SoundHound Launches Hound, a Siri-Like Virtual Assistant

Is Apple's Siri about to be hounded by a new competitor? That's the goal of SoundHound, the makers of Hound, a personal voice assistant app that recently left beta status and is now available for download for iOS and Android devices.

A year ago, SoundHound introduced an early version of its voice assistant app for smartphones, which offers some of the same features as Siri, Google Now, Microsoft's Cortana and similar programs. However, SoundHound's background is strictly in the field of audio recognition.

That means that Hound could provide quicker responses to user queries. SoundHound was one of the first companies to offer an app that identified songs playing nearby with the aid of a smartphone microphone, a space that?EU?s now dominated by the Shazam app.

Numerous Capabilities

A user activates the Hound app either by pressing a microphone button in the app or by saying "OK, Hound." The company said that although the service is always "listening," nothing the user says is permanently recorded.

Hound enables users to quickly find directions, check weather forecasts, search for restaurants and initiate phone calls, among other capabilities. Where the app stands apart is in its other options, according to the company. Besides its speed, it responds to questions asked in a natural speaking language rather than keywords.

The app also lets users ask follow-up questions or filter the results from their first questions. For example, once a user gets a forecast for a particular city, Hound can also quickly get forecasts for other locations, the company said.

Hound also offers such services as currency conversion, voice dialing and texting, nutrition data, video search, unit conversion, word and phrase translation and sports scores.

Wide Open Market

We asked Atlanta-based tech analyst Jeff Kagan to assess the increasingly competitive space in which Hound finds itself. He noted that with the...

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