Rather than the limited number of search categories that AI virtual assistants like Siri are capable of responding to (ask Siri a question that she doesn’t understand — no matter how simple — and she will simply open a web search), Viv takes on Skynet-esque intelligence with “software that’s writing itself.” So how smart is Viv? Kittlaus took the stage to ask Viv: “Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?” Viv responded with aplomb using data from Weather Underground. By the way, the answer was yes — it did in fact rain on April 21st.
But the natural language recognition capabilities didn’t stop there; Kittlaus got even more convoluted with his questions, asking Viv, “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?” Once again digging into the Weather Underground well, Viv provided weather details for this Wednesday from 5PM onwards.
Viv has expansive third-party app integration without needing to have separate apps installed. For example, Kittlaus asked Viv to “Send Adam 20 bucks for the drinks last night.” Viv then queried the Venmo service to automatically send the payment electronically.
Viv is also extremely capable when it comes to “stacking” requests. For example, when you ask Siri a question, its “brain” is effectively purged after that search request has been fulfilled. Viv, on the other hand, will keep your previous search queries in mind as you continue. In the on-stage demo, Kittlaus attempted to order flowers for his mom. It brought up a number of arrangements via a partnership with Pro Flowers. Since his mom likes tulips, he made the search more specific, saying “What about tulips?” The list was then whittled down to a tulip arrangement and his mom’s address details were already pre-filled along with payment information to complete the purchase.
Right now, Viv is one-way street with regards to conversations — it will provide you with the information you request, but it won’t actually “speak” to you. So if you’re expecting to get a dose of humor that Siri can dish out or actually carry out intelligent conversations with Viv, you’re going to have to wait to see what the future holds.
Viv in its current form was shown off as an iOS app, and is expected to have a “rolling launch” later this year. We’re hoping to see an Android app in the future as well with deeper “hooks” into the operating system than what’s currently possible with an iOS application.