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Japan's only iPhone-less carrier announces Siri competitor

Japan's only iPhone-less carrier announces Siri competitor


Japanese wireless carrier NTT Docomo is announcing a voice-activated concierge service to compete with Siri. The service is called Shabette Concier and will be released March 1st.

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NTT Docomo is the only one of Japan’s three major carriers to not carry Apple’s iPhone devices, and with the expected release of Japanese language support for Siri just around the corner, the company is blasting first with a Japanese language voice-activated concierge service called Shabette Concier. Available for Android 2.2 and up beginning March 1st, the app (whose name loosely translates to "talking concierge") will allow you to access services like recipes, restaurant listings, train routes, maps, and weather; as well as use voice control for your phone, mail, memos, scheduler, alarms and music player. Perhaps building on the speech-to-text system Docomo is developing with Nintendo, Shabette Concier takes care of language processing in the cloud, which means that while you don't have to worry about storing a huge database and running everything on your local device, when the servers are down so is the service. Also, while Siri ties in to Wolfram Alpha, Docomo is going with Wikipedia, which has broad (and potentially hilarious) implications for search results.

While we haven’t had a chance to play around with the new software yet, we're not seeing the same kind of deep integration with apps that Siri offers — it looks as though calendar events can't be created or edited with voice controls, only checked (though alarms and emails can be created with the service). That said, access to popular Japanese services like Guru Navi (a restaurant listing app similar to Yelp) and Cookpad (a recipe app similar to Epicurious) through voice controls would be an interesting point of differentiation for the new service. Check the first source link below for video of Shabette Concier in action.