Sherpa is a free voice assistant app that is new to the U.S. The app was created by natural language expert and CEO Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria from Bilbao, Spain, who has worked on semantic and natural language technology for over a decade. He has said that the female-voiced Sherpa is already “beyond Siri,” but that he hopes all smartphone actions may one day be completed using Sherpa.
Here are a few facts about Sherpa:
* Sherpa should not be confused with another recently released personal assistant app that was originally named Sherpa. The makers quickly rebranded under the name Osito after learning that the name Sherpa was trademarked in the U.S..
* Sherpa started out in Bilbao, Spain, but it now also has offices in Redwood City, Calif. It has raised $1.6 million in angel funding.
* Sherpa is currently only available as a beta on Android through the Google Play Store. It is expected to be available soon on iOS.
* Sherpa used to work only in Spanish, and has already become very popular with Spanish-speakers in Europe. Sherpa has garnered 450,000 downloads since October, when it was first launched as a beta. It was the first Spanish-language voice assistant, and quickly saw 125,000 downloads in less than a month. The Spanish version has an average 4.5 rating. It is now available in English.
* According to CNet News, Sherpa has partnered with and draws on API data from a variety of companies in order to deliver specific answers and perform specific functions. Some of the companies Sherpa works with include PayPal, Twitter, Themoviedb.org, Lastminute.com, Wikipedia and LinkedIn.
* Per PCMag, the Sherpa application can answer questions, play YouTube videos, transfer money via PayPal, play music, display sports scores, list weather forecasts, find local businesses, make phone calls, schedule appointments and post to various social networks.
* GigaOM learned that users of Sherpa may navigate their Twitter feeds using voice prompts. Sherpa completes these actions by making use of the Twitter API.
* Sherpa has created an interactive information card format that aggregates information from multiple sources. Some of the sources include LinkedIn profiles and Wikipedia entries.
* The Sherpa technology learns over time, just like Siri. The app is supposed to improve its interpretation of what you are requesting the longer a user makes use of it.
* Sherpa will stream requested music from the cloud , even when the music is not loaded on the user’s phone. The app is able to do this because of a partnership with a European company that has the rights to 4 million tracks.
* GigaOM found that Sherpa uses Android’s Speech Recognition API to process what a user says. The words are translated into a meta-language consisting of 250,000 semantic concepts and 5,000 rules that order those concepts. It then parses the meaning and intent from the resulting string of concepts. It can respond to queries using voice, text, or both. The way Sherpa processes language allows it to be adapted to other languages fairly quickly.
* One beta tester at CNet Reviews suggested that each user begin using the app by going to the Settings screen in order to link Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will allow the user to begin tweeting and creating status updates with voice commands right away.
* USA Today offers a more complete comparison between Sherpa and Siri. When testers compared voice commands in Sherpa and Siri, Sherpa won out with better results in most cases. Sherpa did not win in every voice command category, however. For example, Sherpa is better at translating words and phrases to other languages and making flight arrangements, but Siri is better at answering math problems and listing stock information.