Great driving aid; Found parking garages and gas station prices; Waving activates app
Does not look up flights or bus routes; Had trouble with some contextual searches; Didn't show sports scores; Android only
The Robin personal assistant app is great for in-car use, but is less effective elsewhere.
Magnifis makes a pretty bold statement, calling its personal-assistant app "Robin, the Siri challenger." This Android app is designed primarily as an in-car assistant, and can show helpful info nearby and along your driving route. Robin also has a number of quirky features that may make it worth the download, even if you don't have a car.
To activate the assistant, you click a large R button or waving your hand in front of your phone twice. By default, Robin has a female voice, but you can switch to a male voice.
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Robin has a number of quirky attributes, such as the ability to tell jokes and read you your horoscope. Ironically for an app that bills itself as a "Siri challenger," the app can also quote Steve Jobs.
Finally, you can teach Robin things, such as your name and address, which will give you a more personalized experience.
You can also have Robin look for points of interest, read the news and tell jokes ("Can you do something other people can't? Sure, I can read my handwriting"). There were a few hits and misses, though -- some of our contextual searches didn't work.
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A request for Chinese food brought up a Google Map showing all the local Chinese eateries near us. That's just as good as Sherpa.
As Robin is primarily intended for use in the car, it falters a bit when used for day-to-day assistance. For example, the app had trouble looking up flights and stock quotes. When asked about bus routes, Robin told us to buy a car instead. That's a bit snarky, especially if you are in the middle of a hectic trip and just need to find public transportation. Likewise, telling Robin "I have a headache" returned an amusing, but unhelpful response.
Robin did not understand a query to find information about the company named Path. Like Google Now, it interpreted "bio" as biology, not biography.
The app will let you post to Facebook and read updates and Twitter feeds, but you have to use somewhat precise language. If you simply say "Facebook," the app will just read status updates.
Robin is only available for Android devices (there isn't a version designed specifically for tablets) and only comes in English.