SoundHound, the company known for its song recognition app, is branching out beyond music in a big way.
Following months of private beta, the company has launched Hound, its new voice-enabled assistant app to rival Siri and Google Now.
Though the virtual assistant space is getting increasingly crowded with Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa all vying for a spot in our daily lives, SoundHound says its app has a leg up on the competition because it’s able to understand more complex queries than other assistants.
SoundHound CEO Keyvan Mohajer showed us that the Hound app was able to quickly answer questions like “When is the sun going to rise two days before Christmas in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan?” (6:47 a.m) and “How many days are there between the day after tomorrow and three days before the second Thursday of November of 2022?” (2,446 at the time.)
The app, which is available on both iOS and Android, is quite good — though not perfect — at handling followup questions, which both Siri and Google Now are able to do to varying degrees.
Of course, while getting an app to rattle off answers to complicated questions is a good party trick, it’s not something most people will need every day. One of the advantages of using Siri on iOS and Google Now on Android is that those services are integrated natively into your device; you can access them at anytime with the press of a button, regardless of which app you’re in.
While Mohajer acknowledges this puts Hound at “a little bit of a disadvantage,” particularly on iOS since the default search can be changed on Android, he is confident those who try the app will want to use it in place of their current default, citing Google Maps’ popularity despite Apple Maps’ primary placement on iOS.
Though Hound will likely never be able to fully replace Siri on the iPhone, the company does use Apple’s APIs wherever possible. You can use Hound to dictate a text message or dial a phone number, for example, and the company has partnered with a host of third-party developers, which provide access to their data and services.
Mohajer adds that the eventual plan — and the original vision — is to bring Hound to all types of interfaces, not just smartphones; wearables, cars and other connected devices could all benefit from the platform, he says.
“More than 10 years ago, we came up with the idea that we will talk to everything and they talk back to us.”