Saturday, June 13, 2015

App Review: Hound by Soundhound-Sahen Rai

When Soundhound, the company known for the popular music matching app of the same name, came out with a personal voice assistant. We were all floored. How can some random music app company try to compete with the likes of Cortana, Google Now, and Siri, all established by massive companies? They must be barking mad (pardon the pun)! It's a story of David and Goliath, but it may not end the way you think. So let's take a look at the latest app from Soundhound: Hound.

Let's start off with one of the most important things for me when it comes to apps: design.

Hound is extremely slick and looks great. It's heavily influenced by material design, which I love, and has a clean aesthetic that flow throughout the app. Tapping the mic in the middle of the screen or saying "Ok hound" awakens the beast and allows you to start asking it questions.

Now here's where things are pretty hit or miss as with most virtual assistant apps like Hound. I'll let the following photos and complimenting commentary explain.

Unlike Google Now, Hound often doesn't get sentences in natural language

Same Problem here

It does do some things right, and when it works it's pretty fast

Queries like this also show some really great potential for the app. I love the fact that it shows results like this in-app versus in browser.

Also a really  fun addition is the games. Asking Hound to play a games from a small list (Blackjack,Hangman,Number Guess) allows you to play a small game controlled via voice commands in app. It may be simple, but I really like it when developers add these fun additions into their apps.

This here is probably the coolest feature of Hound, and what may lead people to use it. The fact that queries are done in a conversational matter(different from natural language) is awesome and really speeds up the process when looking for things. The hotel search, for example, suddenly becomes a lot easier when I can filter by distance, price, pool availability, etc...

I really, really like this early beta of Hound. But as much as I like it, there's little chance I'm going to use it much. The advantage of Google Now, Siri, and Cortana is that they're baked into the OS. They're easy to access, and can be updated as the OS is. When I want information quickly, there's little chance I'm going to spend the time to go into the app and search, no matter how good it is. The only way I can see Hound really being used it if it's either baked into an OS, or purchased by one of the titan trio. Be that it may, Hound is a great app that I implore you to try. Try to get your hands on and invite (preferably by hounding someone) and explore, because I promise it's a pretty cool experience.


- Great design 

- Conversational speech pattern

- Fun additions (small games)


- Not as easy to access as the native apps

- Not all natural language queries work

Tried out Hound for yourself? Let me know what you think of it on Twitter @masala_tech, and remember to always keep things spicy. 

By Sahen Rai