The developers of SoundHound—an app that identifies music—are gearing up to throw their hat into the voice assistant app ring. Titled Hound, the app has spent nine years incubating. If the video released on Youtube yesterday—called “Hound Internal Demo” for those wanting to see it themselves—is any indicator, it was a lion’s share of a decade well spent. The demo showcases Hound handling complex tasks with ease and multiple tasks at once without a hiccup. Perhaps most impressive was what followed when the demoer asked Hound “What is the monthly payment on a million dollar home?” Rather than seeking out an average statistic, Hound proceeded to request the down payment, the mortgage period, and the interest rate before offering up an answer. As the demo is only a video without the opportunity for a hands-on test, there is some possibility of trickery. However, the production value of the video—or lack thereof—does inspire a degree of confidence. There is no slick marketing sheen. The video is available only in 240p and is shot on a shaky handheld camera a few inches from the phone screen. Rather than a marketing ploy, the demo feels like just that—a demonstration. Granted, the possibility of pre-canned questions still remains, though at this point there’s no means to rule one way or the other.
While not a hands-on demo, re/code’s Liz Gannes did offer up an interview in which SoundHound’s CEO, Keyvan Mohajer, performed a live demonstration for her. Putting Hound through its paces, Mohajer had the app retrieve increasingly specific listings of hotel rooms. Starting with “hotels in Seattle for Friday, staying one night,” Mohajer adds on parameters for price, rating, pet friendliness, and distance from the Space Needle. Gannes offers the assurance that the specifications were all added without using a back button to reset the page and the assertion that neither Siri nor Google Now can.
For those interested in giving Hound hoops to jump through, the app is currently in beta testing. Though not open to the public, individuals can apply to join the beta on the SoundHound website. Though currently working on Android, Hound for iOS is evidently also in the works. Though Hound still has a long way to go, if Mohajer’s promises pan out, Google and Apple will need to pick up the pace. Hound is making up ground fast.