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Sherpa personal assistant: hands-on

Siri, S-Voice, Google Now, each of these services was built with the ability to streamline the interaction between and user and their smartphone by replacing screen taps, with spoken word.

Whilst each native application offers its own take on how best to display information and integrate services, Sherpa is a third-party solution with a few additional features and tricks all its own. We’ve been trialling the free app (which is still in beta) and it has to be said that it’s impressed across the board.

Originally launched in Spanish speaking countries including many parts of South America, the first iteration of Sherpa quickly gained popularity, racking up over 100,000 downloads in its first two week. On April 29th, and English-speaking version was released to markets such as the UK and Australia, one week on from its initial debut in the US and downloads currently stand at around the 30,000 mark.

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As we’ve come to expect from any voice assistant, Sherpa can present information regarding the weather, people of interest, sports scores and so on, but there’s also an additional level of control, allowing you to not only launch any app installed, but post status updates to Twitter or Facebook, compose emails, WhatsApps or texts by voice, change volume or sound profile, make payments to friends via PayPal and even browse and book concert tickets or flights.

It’s difficult to establish which is Sherpa’s best feature but our personal favourite is music playback. Whilst Siri will let you play music from your own library, Sherpa doesn’t require that you have any songs on your device whatsoever. So long as you have an active internet connection, you can request a song or a band or even something as broad as an entire genre and Sherpa will be able to stream music from its own library – great if you’re after a particular track at a moment’s notice.

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As it’s still in beta we did have some issues with connectivity and speech recognition, with the voice feedback not being able to distinguish between “O.K.” and “ok” (as in ‘clock’), but the service is already at an excellent starting point and will only improve from here on out. We recommend testing it out for yourself to see what it can really do as we didn’t cover elements like translation and calendar integration, but it’s your choice.

Head to Google Play to download the app right now for free and get ‘Sherping’ (their term not mine).

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