Dec. 30, 2011 at 1:11 PM ET
It's being billed as "Siri, now for your Android device!" But it's not really Siri, and it's certainly not the same as Apple's intelligent voice-control feature, built into the iPhone 4S.
Developer "Official App" has released the "Siri for Android" app, which is free, and in this case, you do get what you pay for. The app is simply a Siri icon (see, you'll look cool —not — having that Siri-like icon on your Android phone) that opens Google's Voice Actions app. That's right: In this case, "Siri for Android" is a kind of door-opener, or shortcut.
Google's Voice Actions, while no Siri, does let you do a variety of things by voice: Send text messages, "write" a note, ask for a song to be played, among other tasks.
"It supports many different voice commands and Google is constantly working to make it even more powerful. Show your iPhone friends your Android phone can do what Siri does!" exclaims Official App about Siri for Android.
It doesn't hurt Official App that its official-sounding name appears right beneath the "Siri for Android" name in the Android Market. So far, there have been between 1,000 and 5,000 installs of the app.
This isn't the first Siri knockoff for Android phones. There are some others, and at least one is called by the name it should have: "Fake Siri for Android," created "just for fun," says the developer.
"Just for fun" can be misleading though, and in this case is an example of the Android Market's Wild West approach to apps, where just about anything goes, in contrast to Apple's more rigid app-approval process.
"While this approach allows legitimate developers to quickly release new apps or updates, it also opens to the door to malware or apps that infringe on copyrights, which Google may then remove," writes Jared Newman of PCWorld. "In this case, a complaint from Apple or media attention may cause Google to take action. Hopefully these misleading Siri knock-offs don't last long."