So Cortana , the intelligent personal assistant of Windows 8.1 smartphones, admits that she can’t match up to a human – at least not too soon- when it comes to subjective questions.
Ask anything in English, with any accent, and OOLOO promises to reply with the answer you’re looking for.
Launched on 1 August 2014, the app initially struggled with the flood of queries and was temporarily restricted to the US. Now back in the global arena, can OOLOO outperform its automated counterparts? I tried asking OOLOO a few questions to put it to the test.
How are you feeling today?
Awesome! Taking less than a minute to respond, Flynn does seem human indeed.
What is my purpose in life?
A very personal and human response in 3 minutes, this trumps the finite pool of Easter Eggs Siri and Cortana feature. If you’re sentimental, you’ll love the fact that the words were thought out by a fellow human instead of being automatically generated.
When did OOLOO launch in Singapore?
I received two similar replies to this, which highlights some inefficiencies in the system they’ll have to sort out. A follow-up question on the delayed availability of OOLOO in Singapore (right) could not be directed back to a specific person, but was answered helpfully.
Where is the nearest McDonald’s?
Wrong. This was actually the second-nearest McDonald’s to me, with OOLOO missing out the outlet just a 5-minute walk from my location.
Inaccurate GPS might have been the issue, and given that these guys are half a world away from Asia, the Siri, Cortana and Google Now are wiser options.
What are some good exhibitions happening around me today?
Meh. Now this barely sounds like a human answer, and took a longer-than-usual 7 minutes. The link brought me to the page of an upcoming research symposium, which highlights another shortcoming of OOLOO – the lack of variety in its responses.
To be fair, Google Now didn’t manage to answer my question either – with its lack of sensitivity to the words “around me”.
Looks like you you can’t be too conversational with both OOLOO and the intelligent PAs.
How do I self-learn coding?
Once again, this response only offers one option – googling for it myself could have been more helpful. Yet, I have to admit it feels good to receive that tiny bit of encouragement a search engine wouldn’t provide.
OOLOO does deliver on its promise of a human touch, though there is a compromise on efficiency. Not the best app for immediate, practical questions, but useful in helping you find answers when you’re too busy to Google and can afford a short wait.
It remains to be seen whether OOLOO will gain traction worldwide, and if it does, whether iDrive will be able to maintain the short waiting time.
The feature image shows Cortana’s reply when quizzed on what love is. For more, check out Funny Cortana Replies.