13
Sep
unnamed (2)

I make no bones of the fact that I find 3rd party voice assistants to be increasingly redundant, especially with the arrival of Google Now on Jelly Bean.

But Google Now doesn't do certain things. One of those things has annoyed me since the early days of Google's Voice Actions: you can't make calendar events through voice input. And as a person that absolute despises digital calendars, this is something of a "must have" feature. Creating a calendar event in an app, to me, is like having a root canal - in that I wish I could be unconscious for the entire experience.

Enter Maluuba. Maluuba, as you might guess, does let you make calendar events (it integrates with your Google account the proper way, no password entry required). It also does a lot of other stuff. Let me give you a brief list:

  • Create alarms (in the Maluuba app), calendar events (syncs to Google Calendar), reminder notes (only in app), and timers
  • Find restaurants, events, movies, local businesses, weather
  • Get answers to questions through WolframAlpha
  • Post status updates to Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare
  • Get directions (launches app of your choice, eg Google Maps)
  • Web searches (you have to say do a web search, which is a bit weird)

Yeah, it sounds a lot like a certain other personal assistant out there, but Maluuba definitely looks like it's going places. The event creation, for example, is such a huge thing for me. It actually works, too (mostly):

Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-11-29 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-33-39 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-48-45

Maluuba isn't quite as genius as my screenshots may let on, though. If you switch up the order of the data you input, it gets confused (see third screenshot). For example, when creating an event, if I say "I have an appointment tomorrow at 4762 Fake Street at 9AM," Maluuba will either put the address in the event title (as above, and hear "state" instead of "fake"), or provide a time that in some way corresponds to the street number. The proper input format is event title, time, and location (as ordered in the entry fields in the app). Still, once you have the format down, that isn't a big deal. It'd just be nice if the app made that obvious in some way.

Finding restaurants works well, and I love that it's integrated with Yelp. WolframAlpha answers are, as usual, great when they work, useless when they don't. The social sharing features are pretty easy (you do have to sign in first), and the directions work OK, except for the fact that Maluuba doesn't distinguish between directions and navigation (either will send you to Google Maps directions).

Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-35-24 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-35-34 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-35-38

Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-34-02 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-35-00 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-37-27 Screenshot_2012-09-13-10-37-42 Screenshot_2012-09-13-11-07-31

There are other drawbacks, as well. It looks like a Windows Phone app - and in a not subtle at all sort of way (the icon looks like the Zune logo for god's sake). It even has that weird skewing of things slightly to the right (that's what she said), which results in less data on the screen when results are showing. That seems... unnecessary.

Also, there's no widget. Which, for me, will present an absolute barrier to regular use of this app until one is implemented. I really, really want an app I can rely on for making voice reminders, calendar events, and timers. But I can't fathom having to do so without a widget. I'm sure Maluuba will get one, but until then, it's going to be a novelty for me more than a tool.

Anyway, you can grab it on the Play Store now, and it's definitely worth taking a look at.

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://twitter.com/whatisajimmy ok

    And a beautiful UI too.

  • http://pctonic.net/ Ashutosh Mishra

    I love the Holo/Metro hybrid design of this app.

    • Robert Grimm

      That's the worst part for me. So ugly.

      • http://pctonic.net/ Ashutosh Mishra

        I dunno, it looks like a welcome change from the overwhelming dark-themed Android apps.

  • shakerya

    screams Metro, no?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Screams it like an 80's hair band.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      I was going to say "looks very Windowsy"

    • fixxmyhead

      big time

    • http://twitter.com/ColtinC Coltin Caverhill

      We were very inspired by Windows 8 UI! We plan to release Holo, Dark Holo (And my own secret project of 8-Bit!) eventually :)

      • ari_free

        Yes, please Holo. Thank you.

  • Barry Lance Leo

    It's not available in India. Can anyone upload the apk pls.

    • Bala

      use market enabler and spoof usa market, btw just installed it and i dont think its as fast as google now

      • Justin

        It's much faster for me (Nexus S in Canada)

  • Joaquín Tuduri

    Does it work in other languages?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Seems to be English-only for now.

    • http://twitter.com/ColtinC Coltin Caverhill

      We are English only for now. We will be supporting as many languages as possible in the future. Stay tuned!

  • Jacob Pope

    Actually, I saw an interesting workaround on XDA:'

    "10. I can’t add calendar entries via Google Now?This seems to be an issue, but here’s a work around that should work. Google has a feature where you can text a number to add stuff to your calendar. First, you need to setup your Phone as a registered device. Go to http://www.google.com/calendar, and go to Calendar Settings. Click the Mobile Setup tab, enter your number, choose your carrier (not necessary), and click Send Verification code. Enter the verification code that you get via text, click Finish Setup. Now click Save and we're halfway there.

    Now create a new contact on your phone called Calendar, and make the primary number 48368 (which is GVENT). Now you can use Google Now to "Text Calendar Lunch with Mom at Applebee's 1pm on Saturday". The event will be created on your calendar. Doing it this way, you will receive a confirmation text that the event was added as well. Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but either way, still cool...."

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Interesting, I wasn't aware of this. All points to events coming to Google Now soon, and it can't come soon enough.

      • Jacob Pope

        Once they tighten up the cross-product integration of Google + Events, Google Calendar, and Google Now, they will make me a very happy person.

    • Nikhil K

      This is cool, worked wonders! Thanks!

      Although, why does the subject include the location, e.g. in the above case, it will write "Lunch with mom at Applebee's". The "at Applebee's" should be in location, but is will show in the subject part...

      I tried various combinations to remove it, but somehow it appends the location to the subject. Any idea?

      • xuohtx

        I have never been able to get it to put the exact correct info in the correct fields, but it's better than not being able to do it at all. I find it pretty amazing the little amount of info I can give it and it still get's the event correct though.

    • Asphyx

      It should be pointed out that this workaround can work on Tablets (without SMS Capability) by using your google voice number to verify the unit.

    • Dan Caseley

      That's a fantastic workaround! Thanks! I wonder when Google will roll it out beyond the US.

  • http://profiles.google.com/erick.xavier Erick Xavier

    WHAAAAT?

    "This app is incompatible with your SGS2."

  • http://twitter.com/Shawinism Shahriyar Mansouri

    Not available here in the UK! **sad face**

  • hasan

    US only. Hate the fact that a lot of apps are just US only.

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  • Justin

    Actually Maluuba does do web searches. Just ask it to. Also, if Wolfram Alpha didn't know the answer to your question, you can swipe to the screen on the right and search a number of other sources :)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Hah, so it does. I'll correct our story.

      • Justin

        Thank you, we appreciate it :D

  • mgamerz

    What's the Metro interface for? Do they not know how Android Guidelines work?

  • http://twitter.com/wststreet KGY

    It's not available in Narnia... screw this

  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Wow...that's pretty Metro - sorry, Modern UI - there.

  • oomatter

    I just use quick event https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rdr.quickadd
    It works pretty well for voice or cut and pasting text.

  • Prem

    Use Speaktoit Assistant, does all this and more.. And has a widget..

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    How does this replace Google Now in any way? I think you it replaces Jelly Bean's Updated updated Voice Search app and it's its Voice actions and new voice assistant features

  • hollywoodfrodo

    You get way more functionality and better calendar integration with Eva/AVX, which really supplement Google Now and voice actions well providing all kinds of functions they still lack.

  • Gawdzila

    This looks great! I've heard very good things about this app, I'll be trying it out as soon as I get my Galaxy Note 2 :D

    I have to say that I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't talk back -- the idea of a personal assistant app giving my phone a voice / personality is pretty cool, but obviously fluid functionality is a far higher priority so I understand why they'd focus on that first and foremost. Maybe later? :)